13 February 2020

Possible EU subsidy for international CO2 storage cooperation

The European Union is prepared in principle to provide a subsidy for a project to store CO2 from industry in Antwerp, Ghent, Zeeland and Rotterdam beneath the North Sea. This was revealed in the list of energy projects that the European Parliament approved on Wednesday, 12 February 2020 and that, as a result, received ‘Project of Common Interest’ (PCI) status.

The Porthos project is in preparation in Rotterdam. This will enable various companies to supply CO2 to a transport pipeline that runs straight through the port area. The CO2 will be transported via this pipeline to an empty gas field beneath the North Sea for permanent storage. Industry in Antwerp, Ghent, Terneuzen and Vlissingen does not have access to empty gas fields off the coast. Investigations will be conducted to assess whether this industry can be connected to the Rotterdam system via a pipeline. The objective is to emit less CO2 into the atmosphere, helping to combat climate change.

The capture and storage of CO2 (Carbon Capture and Storage, CCS) is one of the tracks in the transition towards a climate-neutral industry by 2050. Other tracks include the production of green hydrogen, electrification, use of CO2 and recycling. It is expected that CCS will be used in the relatively short term and that in the longer term more fundamental changes in the industry will be possible. CCS enables CO2 to be removed from the atmosphere within a relatively short period of time and for relatively low costs. Collaboration on this keeps the costs as low as possible.

The port management (North Sea Port, Port of Antwerp and the Port of Rotterdam Authority) are jointly investigating how the infrastructure between the ports should look. They are doing this under the name ‘CO2 TransPorts’. As the European Union considers CCS to be an important tool in combating climate change, the CO2 TransPorts research has received PCI status. CCS also plays an important role in the European Green Deal as a means to combat climate change. In 2020, the three ports can apply for a subsidy from a European fund for infrastructure, the ‘Connecting Europe Facility’. The PCI status is valid for two years (2020 and 2021). After this, the companies must submit a new application.

Industry in the ports of Rotterdam, Antwerp and North Sea Port are already connected by various pipelines. Pipelines are a reliable, safe and environmentally friendly means of transport. The refineries in Antwerp and Vlissingen have been obtaining crude oil by pipeline from Rotterdam for years.

In Rotterdam, the Port of Rotterdam Authority, Gasunie and EBN are now collaborating on Porthos: the system for the transportation and storage of CO2 beneath the North Sea. According to planning, the first CO2 will be stored by the end of 2023. The first phase is expected to only involve CO2 from companies in Rotterdam. In the meantime, North Sea Port and the Port of Antwerp will be investigating the options of laying joint pipelines in their areas to which industry can connect. These local pipelines could then be connected with Rotterdam Porthos in a subsequent phase. As well as studying the feasibility, CO2 TransPorts will also be investigating the timing and amount of CO2 that can be stored.