Plans for Port of Immingham to emerge as a carbon shipping and trading hub have taken a major step forward as key partners signed up to fund a “landmark” feasibility study.
Harbour Energy, Humber Zero and Associated British Ports aim to demonstrate the “unique potential” to import CO2 to a reception terminal on the estuary, transferring to the V Net Zero system for transportation and storage in depleted gas reservoirs deep under the North Sea.
The South Humber Bank project aims to use new and existing infrastructure running from the port’s neighbouring refinery cluster to Theddlethorpe gas terminal at landfall.
It comes as government commits a further £220 million to help some of the most polluting and energy-intensive industries reduce carbon emissions – significantly enhancing an initial £70 million as part of the Industrial Energy Transformation Fund.
Harbour, which acquired the ConocoPhillips UK North Sea assets in 2019, as Chrysaor – prior to a merger with Premier Oil Plc – said leveraging the potential of shipping to transport carbon will help decarbonise emissions clusters that don’t have ready access to local sequestration solutions.
It said in time it should open up opportunities for the Humber to attract shipments from western and northern Europe.
Phil Kirk, president and European chief executive of Harbour Energy, said: “The V Net Zero transport and storage system provides the crucial infrastructure that will allow for industrial decarbonisation of the Humber region. Leveraging shipping could help the cluster deliver decarbonisation for the rest of the UK too, especially emitting regions that do not have ready access to local scalable and well-understood storage facilities.
“As well as having the capacity to single-handedly deliver the 2030 carbon capture target set out in the Prime Minister’s Ten Point Plan, we hope to showcase how through maritime routes and shipping we can go beyond, and help the UK lead the world on CCS and decarbonising industry and society.”
The announcement was timed ahead of World Maritime Day, with thoughts to turn to the future global contribution the sector makes to society. It comes with further funding recently secured for Immingham’s plans to become a pioneering green port with fuel switching across the estate as it links up with near-neighbour Uniper for hydrogen production and other key partners. Neighbouring Grimsby has also set its sights on becoming the National Clean Maritime Demonstration Hub, and has also been strongly backed.
It will mark an incredible transformation for a port built to export coal as part of the industrial revolution, and latterly acting as a major import terminal for the fossil fuel before investing massively in biomass.
ABP chief executive Henrik Pedersen said: “ABP welcomes this important milestone in the UK’s journey to achieve net zero carbon emissions by 2050. We are delighted to be working alongside Harbour Energy, HumberZero and V Net Zero Humber Cluster. Our Port of Immingham will play a pioneering role in the future of hydrogen production, which has far-reaching potential for decarbonisation of the maritime industry worldwide, as well as wider industry.”
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The vision would see significant infrastructure spend and is seen as a key magnet for promoting further inward investment, while enhancing the resilience of the economy and sustaining and creating low carbon jobs. It could follow the likes of Equinor, Shell and Total’s Northern Lights project in Norway.
Humber Zero is a large-scale decarbonisaton project that unites Phillips 66 Humber Refinery and its power and steam provider, VPI Immingham, with the aim of removing eight million tonnes of CO2 annually from the cluster by 2030.
Jonathan Briggs, project director, said: “The Humber is uniquely placed to access large, low-cost geological storage structures for CO2 such as the depleted Viking and Victor fields now being developed at V Net Zero.
“Developing a shipped CO2 facility at Port of Immingham now allows us the unique ability to connect to other UK clusters and stores, providing obvious benefits toward decarbonising other UK clusters and reaching Net Zero in 2050.”
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