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Norway welcomes the world aboard Longship

November 3, 2021
By The Explorer
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Norwegian Viking ships are once again ready to set sail, this time in the form of Longship. “We have a shared responsibility to solve one of the greatest challenges of our time: climate change. Longship is part of the solution,” says Roy Vardheim, CEO of Gassnova. “Gassnova and its industrial partners are now welcoming the rest of the world aboard.”

Longships were key to the success of the Vikings. With their long hulls, these types of ships could cover large distances quickly in both shallow and deep waters. This shipbuilding expertise helped Norwegians to dominate the oceans for several hundred years and made Norway one of the world’s leading seafaring nations. It is precisely these historical threads – which extend all the way back to the Viking Age – that have given Norwegian industry’s most ambitious climate project its name: Longship.

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Open access project

“Longship is one of the first industrial carbon capture and storage projects to develop an open access infrastructure with the capacity to store significant volumes of CO₂ from across the European continent. Longship is one type of technology that could prove decisive in achieving our climate targets,” says Vardheim.

Capturing the carbon is only the first step for Longship. Once captured, the CO₂ is condensed into liquid form. It is then shipped from capture sites in Norway and Europe to a receiving terminal, where it is pumped through a pipeline to injection wells offshore. Finally, the liquefied CO₂ is stored and sealed two to three kilometres below the seabed.

Although Norwegians have always made a living from the sea, Norway has in recent decades developed technology that can operate – and create value – in extremely tough and demanding waters. A wealth of offshore experience and expertise in subsea operations is now ready to be harnessed in a new way.

An exciting technological journey

Norway is an early mover in carbon capture and storage (CCS). Gassnova has been working on CCS alongside industry since 2005 – at every stage from R&D to industrial scaling. Gassnova’s main goal is to contribute to technology development and cost reduction and help to deploy CCS through knowledge sharing and experience transfer with its partners.

The Norwegian full-scale CCS project emerged from a unique long-term collaboration between the Norwegian government, government agencies, R&D institutions, academia and industrial partners. The full-scale CCS project now has a name – Longship – and is ready for industrial deployment.

“Longship would not have been possible without the expertise and close cooperation of our industrial partners. Longship’s success is based on valuable relationships,” says Vardheim.

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Drilling of the first well is complete

The first well has already been drilled in the North Sea and will be used to inject CO₂ into the storage complex below the seabed. The well is one aspect of the Northern Lights project – a collaboration between the three energy giants Equinor, Shell and Total who are working together to develop a joint solution to climate challenges. Part of the larger Longship project, Northern Lights will transport the CO₂ by tanker from capture locations in Europe to a purpose-built receiving terminal near Bergen on the western coast of Norway.

“Interest in carbon capture and demand for storage capacity is growing fast as companies and countries start to implement net-zero strategies. Northern Lights is adjusting its ambition to meet market demand in Norway and Europe. We are positioning ourselves to receive CO₂ from several different sectors that are looking to Norway for storage capacity. The potential is huge, since it is almost impossible to achieve the world’s climate goals without this technology,” says Børre Jacobsen, Managing Director of Northern Lights.

Northern Lights will be the first ever cross-border, open-access carbon transport and storage infrastructure network, offering European industrial emitters the opportunity to store their CO₂ permanently underground. It is scheduled to come online in 2024, and will transport, inject and store up to 1.5 million metric tons of CO₂ annually. Capacity will gradually be expanded to 5 million metric tons annually.

Knowledge and learning will benefit all

As a part of the Longship project, the partners will share experience to increase knowledge about CCS technologies, speed up development and demonstrate that CCS can be carried out on a massive scale. Ultimately, the project aims to achieve long-term climate goals in Norway and the EU in a cost-effective manner.

The Norwegian government has also defined four effect goals for Longship:

  • Provide knowledge that shows that it is possible and safe to carry out full-scale CO₂ management.
  • Provide productivity gains for future projects through learning and scale effects.
  • Provide learning related to the regulation and incentivisation of CO₂ management activities.
  • Facilitate business development.