Shell’s plans to decommission a North Sea pipeline have not derailed a major clean energy scheme in Peterhead, organisers have insisted.
The energy giant yesterday submitted plans to the UK government to shut down the Goldeneye field, which lies 81miles north-east of Aberdeen.
It comes as Pale Blue Dot is aiming to expand the Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS) facility at the St Fergus gas terminal near Peterhead, which was recently highlighted by a government taskforce as a “key area” to further roll out the technology.
Goldeneye’s pipeline is part of the proposals to build-out the Acorn CCS project at St Fergus, and Pale Blue Dot is hoping to avoid anything which could put up the cost of its use, or stop them from using it altogether.
The firm said that nothing in the decommissioning plans rule out use of the pipeline.
Managing director Alan James said: “I think the operator has made an attempt to allow for a situation where it could be reused.
“The details of that reuse aren’t clear in the comparative assessment but overall I think it is a sensible way forward.
“Nothing has been ruled out.
“The platform itself is not an issue for us as the Acorn CCS project was never planning to use the platform or the wells that it hosts.”
The main line Pale Blue Dot is hoping to use to kickstart the expanded project is the Atlantic pipeline, which is not affected by Shell’s plans, although Goldeneye is another main option it is looking at.
A demonstrator project is currently in place and the expanded CCS scheme would take harmful CO2 emissions and store them underground offshore.
A report in July by the Carbon Capture Utilisation and Storage Task Force (CCUS), described the St Fergus terminal as having “unique potential” to further deploy the technology in coming years due to its oil and gas links.
The UK government will set out its plans for the technology later this year in a bid to meet climate change targets.
Although details on how the pipeline could be repurposed “aren’t clear” in Shell’s plans, it leaves the option open for CCS.
The Goldeneye platform and pipeline were originally studied as part of a similar project at Peterhead Power Station which was eventually scrapped.
In November 2015 the UK Government withdrew £1billion worth of funding for the project, leaving Shell to come up with decommissioning plans.
The newly-published decommissioning document sets out future options for the infrastructure.
It states: “CCS stakeholders have indicated an interest in maintaining the integrity of the pipeline such that future re-use is not prohibited.
“Although not aware of any current commercially viable proposals for re-use of the Goldeneye infrastructure, Shell U.K. is nevertheless open to discussions on future re-use and believes that, in a world requiring more energy but less CO2, there is a critical role for CCS deployment at scale.”
Mr James sees this as a positive outcome.
He added: “We’re already in discussions with the UK government, the Scottish Government and Shell.
“We just need to find the sweet spot between the pipeline being reused and the operator fulfilling its decommissioning requirements and I think we are close to that.
“I think the good thing is that CCS has been one of the factors that the operator has been very mindful of in putting their decommissioning plan together.
“It’s a good signpost too for other operators putting their decommissioning plans forward.”