Lien set to delay carbon capture

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Norway’s Oil & Energy Minister Tord Lien confirmed on Friday, when Norwegian media outlets were preoccupied with news about British voters deciding to leave the EU, that he wants to delay projects to capture and store carbon emissions for another two years. That’s likely to come as more bad news for the climate and environmental activists.

Norway's Oil & Energy Minister Tord Lien doesn't want to rush into carbon capture and storage projects aimed at halting climate change. PHOTO: Olje- og energi departementet

Norway’s Oil & Energy Minister Tord Lien doesn’t want to rush into carbon capture and storage projects aimed at halting climate change. PHOTO: Olje- og energi departementet

Norway’s plans for carbon capture and storage have been repeatedly put off, also by the former left-center government that announced delays after a critical election. The costs of carbon capture are high, and politicians of all persuasions have long been under pressure to lessen the cost burden on local industry.

Lien, of the conservative Progress Party, told news bureau NTB that he now doesn’t want to “act hastily” in the work to create complete facilities for capture and storage of carbon emissions in Norweay. He thinks Norway must wait until 2022 until everything can be in place. Norwegian politicians had set a goal of finally having carbon capture and storage in place by 2020.

Three separate facilities (Yara’s fertilizer plant at Porsgrunn, Norcem’s cement plant in Brevik and Oslo’s garbage processing facility at Klemetsrud) are now finished with feasibility studies of carbon capture. Lien said it is “fully possible” for the companies to succeed with their efforts to capture up to 1.5 million tons of carbon emissions. Studies have also been done on both the transport and storage of CO2. Lien said the 2020 goal, however, can’t be met if “good industrial practices” are to be followed.

“But the studies show that we can carry out a project where the whole chain is in place by 2022,” Lien said. He warned against moving more quickly.

“I think it’s much more important to get a good project in place, than to rush into something that’s not so good,” Lien told NTB, and repeated his remarks on national radio Friday morning.

He pointed to the bitter defeat suffered by former Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg and his Labour Party, first when the project at Statoil’s Mongstad plant that Stoltenberg had famously called “Norway’s moon-landing” crashed and then was scrapped in 2013. Stoltenberg’s government was also accused of withholding news about the fate of the failed carbon capture project until after the national election in 2013, ,which the Labour-led government lost anyway.

“There were many champagne corks and festive speeches about how fast that project was supposed to move,” Lien told NTB. He prefers to keep the corks in the battles until a decision is made.

“It’s important and good to have ambition, but not to work hastily,” Lien insisted. “We need to build this stone-by-stone first and follow good industrial processes.”

The actual report on the feasibility studies for carbon capture are due on July 4, with a 40 percent margin of error on actual costs. In addition to the studies at Yara, Norcem and Klemetsrud, Statoil has also conducted a study regarding the use of ships in the North Sea, to see how gas emissions could be stored.

Lien thinks the results are “exciting,” and could produce overall cuts in Norway’s carbon emissions (which are high on a per capital basis because of Norway’s oil and gas industry) of 2.8 percent.

Lien wouldn’t reveal prospective costs. NTB reported that when Statoil’s “moon-landing” project crashed, costs had risen to as much as NOK 25 billion. Lien hastened to note that current indications are that costs now will be “much lower.”

newsinenglish.no/Nina Berglund