Storegga has said plans to end local refining at Grangemouth will not affect feedstock volumes for its flagship Acorn carbon storage project.
Speaking at the DeCarb Scotland event in Edinburgh on Thursday, Storegga business development and policy lead Dave Holman said Petroineos’ decision to turn the refinery site into a fuels import terminal would have “no impact” on its plans for Acorn and the wider Scottish Cluster scheme.
In November 2023, Petroineos – a joint venture between PetroChina and Ineos – announced the oil refinery at the Grangemouth site could cease operations as soon as 2025 following an 18-month transition to a fuel import terminal, in a move affecting hundreds of jobs.
The decision also raised questions over the potential impact on CO2 feedstock from the complex, which forms a key pillar of the Scottish Cluster – a consortia of industrial sites who will use Acorn infrastructure to store carbon emissions in the North Sea.
Acorn is the backbone of the Cluster, but lost out to rival bids in the “Track 1” entry process for a £1 billion support package from Westminster in 2021. It was later confirmed in Spring 2023 as one of a pair of winners in the “Track 2” process, and given formal backing by Prime Minister Rishi Sunak during a visit to the region last summer.
Mr Holman made clear he did not speak for Ineos but said that based on discussions between the company and Storegga “there is no impact on their fuel-switching net zero project of any future potential closure of any aspects of the refinery.”
As well as Grangemouth, Mr Holman said the developer was working with a “strong, credible list of emitters” including hubs around the Shell-operated Mossmorran natural gas liquids facility in Fife and St Fergus Gas Plant in the north east.
FID in 2025
This would allow for a “series” of final investment decisions (FIDs) in the coming years for various parts of the cluster, as part of a “modular approach” across Scotland.
Managing director for Acorn Nic Braley said Storegga hoped to be able to make an FID on the scheme “during 2025” but that further work was underway with the Department for Energy Security and Net Zero on the “anchor” and “build-out” phases of the project.
“We would like to be taking FID on the first anchor phase during 2025 but there is the potential for further subsequent FIDs as different stages of the project build out and develop over time,” he said.
“What we’re working with DESNZ to do is understand the best sequencing for emitters and capture those volumes.
“We can deliver a project quickly and I think we have the potential to see a very rapid build-up in volumes provided we can deliver certainty on the projects and funding and the underlying regulatory mechanisms which some of our emitters need.”
Under stated timelines, the plant could then be ready to receive volumes from 2028, with the potential for more than 10 million tonnes per year of CO2 stored from 2030.
Need for ‘urgent’ timeline clarity
Meanwhile addressing the opening plenary session of the conference, Cabinet Secretary for Energy Neil Gray hailed the potential of Acorn and the wider CCS sector in Scotland, and confirmed submissions for the project’s anchor phase would be requested later this year.
“While this is a welcome development, we urgently need clarity on the specifics of this process such as the deadline for Acorn’s plan submission and when a final decision will be made,” he added.
“It’s vital the UK government avoids further delays and works at pace with the Acorn project to ensure deployment by the 2028-29 timeframe because delivery is absolutely critical.”
The SNP has long earmarked £80m to support acceleration of the scheme, but later “reprofiled” the capital into subsequent years following delays to the Track delivery process.
Despite that commitment, “no budget provision” was made for the project in the 2024-25 budget unveiled in December – prompting criticism by other local politicians.
Mr Gray reiterated on Thursday that the administration “remains committed” to making the £80m funding available “once more details are known.”