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Petrochemical giant Ineos signs MoU with Aberdeenshire’s Acorn CCS project

© Supplied by Media Zoojobs Grangemouth restructuring
Ineos' Grangemouth oil refinery complex processes oil and gas from the Forties pipeline system from the North Sea

Petrochemicals giant Ineos has thrown its backing behind a trailblazing north-east carbon capture and storage (CCS) project.

The company’s “three Grangemouth businesses”, Petroineos, Ineos Chemicals and Ineos FPS, have signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with Aberdeenshire’s Acorn project.

Together the partners will work to develop Scotland’s first CCS plant, linking the Grangemouth refinery on the Firth of Forth to the north-east.

It is claimed the move will open up a pathway for Scotland to hit its “ambitious climate targets” by safely capturing and securing harmful emissions.

By investing at the major Grangemouth oil refinery – which is operated by Petroineos, a joint venture between Ineos and PetroChina – Ineos said it could allow for the abatement of about one million tonnes of carbon a year by 2027.

Beyond that, there would then be scope for capturing “further significant volumes”.

Ineos FPS is the operator of the North Sea Forties pipeline, which was recently shutdown so it could undergo a major upgrade project.

Westminster has made a commitment to establish CCS in two industrial clusters by the mid 2020s, increasing to four by 2030.

Projects up and down the UK have been beefing up their offering in recent months to try and ensure they’re part of the initial cohort.

The Scottish Cluster, a cross-sector group featuring some of Scotland’s biggest emitters, was formed earlier this year to push for Acorn to “lead the UK’s charge”.

Andrew Gardner, chairman of INEOS Grangemouth, said: “It’s appropriate that we try to work our sustainability agenda as the Grangemouth cluster of Ineos businesses. It’s a global issue so there’s no point the individual businesses doing it on their own.”

He added: “As a one of Scotland’s largest manufacturers and employers, we acknowledge that we are operating a CO2 intensive industry and we have a significant role to play in helping Scotland reach its Net Carbon Zero target by 2045.

“We have already made significant reductions since taking ownership of the site and we are delighted to be taking this further by supporting the Acorn CCS Scottish Cluster bid.

“Once operational, the carbon capture and storage system will provide an essential route to permanently and safely capture and store CO2 emissions for large industrial emitters throughout Scotland with significant positive impact for Climate Change and the country.”

Mr Gardner also said there would “absolutely be construction jobs” involved with the project, while more would be secured through a “low carbon transition”.

On how carbon might be transported from the central belt to the north-east, he said the “economics will decide”, with repurposing pipelines and shipping both on the table.

Since taking ownership of Grangemouth in 2005, Petroineos has lessened CO2 emissions at the site by 37%.

And it’s hoped that, once operational, the proposed CCS system will increase that figure to more than 50%, compared with 2005.

Ineos’ businesses at Grangemouth have put in place roadmaps to facilitate the transition to net zero by no later than 2045.

‘A really significant step’

Based at the St Fergus gas plant near Peterhead, Acorn is being led by Banchory’s Pale Blue Dot Energy, a subsidiary of low carbon technology firm Storegga.

The St Fergus gas terminal in Aberdeenshire.

Earlier this year, oil and gas firms Shell and Harbour Energy struck a deal to become equal equity partners in the project, alongside Storegga.

Acorn is assessing the feasibility of using North Sea oil and gas infrastructure to store emissions in exhausted gas reservoirs.

The potential for using CCS in direct air capture (DAC) and the creation of hydrogen are also being explored.

Nick Cooper, chief executive of Storegga, said: “The Acorn project partners – Storegga, Shell and Harbour Energy – are delighted that INEOS and Petroineos have entered into an MOU with Acorn, which is a really significant step in managing Scotland’s industrial emissions.

“The Acorn CCS and hydrogen project is advanced, highly scalable and has clear visibility of a large CO2 customer base.  Acorn provides critical carbon reduction infrastructure to the growing Scottish Cluster of emitters and to the wider UK.”

‘It is critical that the UK Government selects Acorn’

Richard Lochhead, the Scottish Government’s just transition minister, said: “It is very welcome that INEOS and Petroineos at Grangemouth have joined the Scottish CCS Cluster, partnering with the Acorn Project on plans to capture and store one million tonnes of CO2 emissions by 2027.

Richard Lochhead
Richard Lochhead

“Grangemouth is a leading manufacturing centre in Scotland and will play a vital role in our just transition to net zero. This announcement is an important step for unlocking that potential.

“We are supportive of the Acorn project, considered the most advanced CCS project in the UK. It, and the wider Scottish Cluster, has vast potential to support decarbonisation in Scotland, the UK and the wider world. Vitally, CCS also presents a huge opportunity to harness the skills and expertise of our current workforces to create many good, green jobs in the coming years.

“It is critical that the UK Government selects Acorn and the Scottish Cluster to be among the first CCU clusters to be awarded funding through its current cluster sequencing process.

“Today’s announcement from INEOS and Petroineos further strengthens the case for UK Government support.”

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