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Viable vessels for CCS Northern Lights is a joint cooperation project between Equinor, Shell and Total, while DNV GL has provided technical support.

World - Shell to build ships to carry more CO2 over longer distances for CCS hubs

Shell is building larger vessels that can carry more carbon dioxide over longer distances as part of the company’s plans to expand its carbon capture storage (CCS) business globally, the oil major said.

The ability to ship large volumes of CO2 from industrial sites to offshore CCS hubs is critical in improving the economies of scale for these projects. CCS is aimed at decarbonising heavy industries such as refining, cement and steel.

As part of the Northern Lights project in Norway, Shell’s joint venture with Equinor and TotalEnergies, the companies will build two ships capable of carrying 7,500 cubic metres of CO2.

Shell is leading the design and construction of the vessels, which will be powered by liquefied natural gas, the company said. Steel-cutting will take place in the third quarter, while the ships will be ready for delivery in 2024.

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The company said it is also making larger vessels that can travel over longer distances, as well as finalising the design for a 12,000-cubic metres ship.

Designs for vessels with capacities of 36,000, 40,000 and 70,000 cubic metres are in progress, according to the company.

Shell operates the Quest CCS facility near Edmonton, Alberta, and is a partner in the Gorgon CCS in Australia. It is also working on several similar projects across Canada, Europe and the Asia Pacific.
Source: Reuters

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Northern Lights show the way to seaborne CCS solutions

Recent high-level reports have tagged carbon capture and storage (CCS) as critical for achieving the UN’s global emissions reduction goals, with the maritime transport of CO2 emerging as an essential link in the decarbonization chain. The efficient transport of CO2 by ship could open up new industrial markets for the plentiful but sometimes problematic by-product.

These are two primary motivators behind the Northern Lights project, part of the Norwegian initiative to achieve full-scale CCS. The project encompasses the capture of CO2 from cement production and a waste-to-energy plant in the Oslofjord region and the shipping of liquid CO2 from these sites to an onshore terminal on the Norwegian west coast. From there, the liquefied CO2 will be transported by pipeline to a subsea storage location in the North Sea for permanent storage.

“Since pipelines cannot always provide the total solution for transporting CO2, we need to learn how to make CO2 shipping work,” says Frank Ollerhead, Ship Transport Lead in the Northern Lights project. “The aim of this initiative is to provide viable and necessary solutions for the sea transport of CO2.”

Viable vessels for CCS

Northern Lights is a joint cooperation project between Equinor, Shell and Total, while DNV GL has provided technical support.

“The Northern Lights ships are relatively small, and the schedule is tight,” says Ollerhead. “For this reason we decided to use proven technology rather than rely on R&D for our solutions. Most of the technology is already there. Now we are fitting it together in a practical solution.”

The project is looking to design vessels as close as possible to EEDI phase 3, Ollerhead says. “We want the ships to be as green as possible, but we are not developing new green technology for ships.” He reports that both LNG and dual fuel are being considered as fuel options, with batteries added for manoeuvring up to 45 minutes. “These are basically standard ships with new containment tanks, and batteries added on. The resulting reduction in CO2 emissions may seem small, but the introduction of batteries to improve efficiency is nonetheless a timely feature.”

Devising economic solutions

Introducing a high-pressure, low-temperature containment system into standard designs has kept costs down, improving the economics of vessel-based solutions compared with pipelines, says Magnus Lindgren, Senior Principal Surveyor, Ship Type Expert Gas Carriers at DNV GL Maritime.

“Standard size is a prerequisite for a ship to be economical, but the tanks in this case are designed for very high pressure. This requires high-strength materials.” The process with the project partners has focused on approving tank materials using a design compatible with standard ships, Lindgren reports. When using high-strength material in the tanks, the fatigue properties may become critical. The design team has taken these properties into account to maintain the defined safety levels in the codes.

The decision to incorporate a single large-diameter type C cylinder cargo tank in the Northern Lights project improved the economics of the liquefied CO2 carrier design, Lindgren notes, adding that the tank design provides relatively high-volume efficiency when applied on ships typically used for LPG transportation.

“The tank containment system is new, but the vessel is still based on proven ship design,” says Ollerhead. “We have selected a design solution that will be economical. It is somewhat outside the standard, which is traditionally a cost driver, but the ships will still have good economy.” With funding from the project partners, DNV GL concluded the pre-class evaluation of innovative type C containment tanks for liquefied CO2 for the Northern Lights project in October 2019.

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