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    UK Committee Urges Carbon Storage Aid

Summary

A parliamentary committee urges government support as an interim measure to enable carbon and capture and storage technology to become commercial.

by: William Powell

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UK Committee Urges Carbon Storage Aid

The UK parliamentary committee for Scottish Affairs came out strongly in favour of government assistance for carbon capture and storage (CCS} in a report published February 4. It said re-using pipelines and decarbonising industry will kill two birds with one stone. The Scottish economy relies heavily on the offshore oil and gas industry and one of its main challenges will be adapting to a low carbon economy.

It said: "We believe that maximising economic recovery is the right approach for the sector and welcome the steps the [upstream regulator] Oil & Gas Authority (OGA) has taken to improve collaboration. Whilst we acknowledge environmental concerns about the MER strategy, oil and gas looks likely to form a substantial part of the UK’s energy mix for at least the next 15 years. As such, we believe it makes sense to meet as much of this need as possible from domestic sources."

In its report, which also covered the problems and opportunites of decommissioning offshore plant, it said carbon capture use and storage (CCUS) technology has an essential role to play in enabling the continued use of gas as a power source in a way that is consistent with the UK’s climate change goals. And it said it welcomed the government’s ambition to support the development of CCUS clusters, which should drive up value for local economies and encourage ongoing technological innovation. 

"Creating a market for using stored CO₂ can make a contribution to the commercial deployment of CCUS by creating an income stream from some of the captured gas and we welcome the support that the government has announced for businesses innovating in this area.

"Oil and gas infrastructure has the potential to be re-used for CCUS and it would be regrettable if this potential was lost due to a relatively short gap between infrastructure being decommissioned and CCUS becoming commercially viable. We welcome the [energy minister Claire Perry’s] openness to finding solutions to this problem and invite the government to set out what options are being considered in its response to this report. 

"One solution that we recommend the government considers is that it underwrites the liability for this infrastructure for a fixed time while options for re-use are explored. This would ensure that the original owners are not at risk from additional liability for keeping this infrastructure in place for an extended length of time. Ownership and liability could then be transferred to the new CCUS operator if re-use went ahead, or back to the original owner for decommissioning if the option of re-use does not materialise. 

"We recommend that the OGA take a more proactive approach to encouraging the industry to consider opportunities for infrastructure re-use and that it brings forward a strategy for how it will promote re-use of oil and gas infrastructure within the sector as soon as possible. We believe this would be a natural extension of its role to ensure the economic return from the UKCS is maximised. "

A professor of CCS and the director of the Scottish CCS Stuart Haszeldine said: "The Scottish Affairs Committee report recognises the immense monetary, and social, and skills value that offshore hydrocarbons and engineering could still bring to Scotland and the UK.  In an exceptional step, the Committee poses a challenge to the hydrocarbon industry: to convert its skills, equipment and construction ability and develop carbon capture and storage. This requires Transformational Technology as part of "Vision 2035," the long-term road map for the offshore.

The full report may be read here.