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Exploring CO2 transport

Published by , Editorial Assistant
World Pipelines,


Bente Helen Leinum, Senior Principal Engineer, DNV, Norway, discusses repurposing pipeline infrastructure for carbon dioxide transport.

Having a suitable infrastructure to transport and store CO2 safely and reliably is essential for carbon capture and storage (CCS) expansion worldwide. CCS facilities can either be standalone ‘point-to-point’ projects or ‘hub and cluster’ networks that bring together multiple CO2 emitters and storage locations using shared transportation infrastructures. Establishing such CCS hubs will help accelerate deployment by reducing costs.

International Energy Agency’s (IEA) analysis of CO2 emissions from power and industrial facilities in China, Europe and the US found that 70% of the emissions are within 100 km of potential storage; but shorter distances can reduce costs further and decrease infrastructure development times.

According to the IEA’s ‘CO2 Transport and Storage’ report, there are currently around 9000 km of CO2 pipelines – mainly in North America – and seven dedicated geological CO2 storage operations with a combined capacity of 10 million tpy. Dedicated CO2 storage capacity could reach 110 million tpy of CO2 by 2030, which is far less than the nearly 1200 million tpy of CO2 that is captured and stored by 2030.

However, pipeline infrastructure to support CCS will need to scale substantially. According to the Global CCS Insititute, reaching climate targets will require 70 - 100 capture facilities to be built each year by 2050. These facilities would need to be supported by 200 000 km of pipelines as well, with an average build rate of 5200 - 7200 km/yr. There is currently strong interest within the industry to explore the possibility to repurpose existing pipeline infrastructure to leverage existing CAPEX investments.

Repurposing gas pipelines for CO2

In recent years, several operators have been considering repurposing existing pipelines for CO2 transport. Repurposing, rather than constructing new pipelines, can reduce both project risk, carbon footprint, and costs. Several projects in development, including the Acorn Project in the UK, plan to reuse existing infrastructure.

Looking at the whole value chain involved in pipeline transportation of CO2, a series of ‘pain points’ have been identified where development work can add significant value to CCS projects:

An important decision in the design of a new CO2 pipeline system or repurposing an existing pipeline system, is whether the product is to be transported in gaseous or dense phase. For the design of new pipelines, a general opinion is that transportation of CO2 in dense phase rather than gas phase is preferable due to increased capacity. However, several re-qualification studies point to the transportation of CO2 in gas phase as an attractive solution …

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