SA carbon capture and storage delegation heads to Norway

South African Centre for CCS head Dr Tony Surridge is leading a delegation to Norway to identify areas for further cooperation between governments, academic institutions and industry.

A delegation of South African carbon capture and storage (CCS) experts, researchers, and interested parties on Monday kicked off a research trip to Norway, seeking to enhance collaboration between the two countries, and draw on experience gained from what is regarded as one of the leading countries in developing CCS.

Norwegian Minister of Petroleum and Energy Sigrid Hjornegard noted that the Norwegian government has prioritised bilateral relations with South Africa with regard to CCS, as a part of the broad international cooperation needed to advance this technology.

Developing CCS called for greater collaboration between countries and companies, as international cooperation would assist in bringing down the costs of the technology, as well as improving them.

CCS is seen as an important response in the fight against climate change, as it assisted in the mitigation of carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions.
Norwegian Petroleum and Energy DDG Tone Skogen explained that climate change had been high on the agenda of the Norwegian government for some time, and reducing global CO2 emissions by 80% by 2050 was viewed as imperative.
In 1991, a CO2 tax was imposed in Norway, which requires the oil and gas industry to pay $50/t of CO2 produced. While the tax was not well received initially, it later led to technological innovation to overcome emissions, and was viewed as effective in reducing CO2 emissions in Norway.

CCS was seen as the only technology currently available to reduce emissions from the production and use of fossil fuels. In 2009 and 2010, the total public spending on CCS in Norway was $1-billion.

Skogen emphasised that as CCS technology was expensive, there was a commercial gap, and thus public funding was needed to fill this shortfall. Many projects could not be realised without public funding, but in the interests of fighting climate change, these projects could not be delayed.

The public funding was largely earmarked for Mongstad in Norway, where a technology centre is currently being constructed. Other projects in progress were the full-scale CCS facility in Mongstad, as well as research and regulatory development of transport and storage solutions.

The Norwegian government was currently working on developing regulations and legislation for certain aspects of CCS. These would be in place by June 2011, when a European Union directive on the geological storage of CO2 would come into force.

Norwegian Petroleum and Energy assistant director general Mette Agerup said that if a new sector, such as CCS was started, a clear policy must be developed, and legislation must put it into action. This, she added, would require collaboration between different governmental Ministries, for example, in Norway, the Ministry of Petroleum and Energy led the agenda, but worked with the Ministry of Environment, and the Ministry of Finance.

“Experience in Norway shows that you must have a clear line of responsibility for the sector in question, then have the correct instruments and enough authority to administer the policy and legislation,” stated Agerup.

About one-million tons a year of CO2 has been captured, injected into deep offshore saline aquifers, stored and monitored at Sleipner in Norway, since 1996. Some 700 000t /y of CO2 is also currently being stored at Snohvit, also offshore of Norway.

“All indications show that all is going well, and the CO2 is behaving as expected,” said Skogen of these projects.

As the largest emitter of CO2 in Africa, the South African government has identified CCS as a technology that should be explored as an option to mitigate emissions. It was seen as a transition technology that would be used until the country could scale up the use of renewable energy.

South Africa’s Council for Geoscience was currently drawing up a CCS Atlas, to identify potential storage sites in South Africa.

South African Centre for CCS head Dr Tony Surridge is leading the delegation to Norway and participants included reporesentatives from the Department of Energy, the University of Cape Town, the University of Witwatersrand, the Centre for Scientific and Industrial Research, the Council for Geoscience, Eskom, and Sasol.

The delegation seeks to identify areas for further research and cooperation between governments, academic institutions and industry.

The Norwegian government supports the South African Centre for CCS, and is represented on the board by a representative of the Norwegian embassy in South Africa.

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