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Rotterdam’s Porthos CCS project speeds ahead after FID

Porthos is the first major CCS transport and storage project in the Netherlands and will be the largest facility of its kind in Europe. Following a final investment decision (FID) in October, construction is set to begin in January 2024, with a view to commencing operations by 2026.

Rotterdam’s port is a major gateway for the world’s energy industry where it handles international imports, about half of which are hydrocarbons. It has also been reported as Europe’s biggest port polluter by a Transport & Environment study.

Signatories of the Dutch Climate Agreement agreed that CCS will be needed for about 50% of reduced emissions by 2030, thanks to the technology’s potential to yield big carbon savings in the short term, with relatively lower costs compared with other solutions.

Porthos is pioneering a project where industrial CO2 from the Port of Rotterdam will be transported and stored in depleted sandstone gas fields in the Dutch North Sea. Porthos will focus on empty fields P18-2, P18-4 and P18-6 where TAQA previously extracted gas.

Kicking off the plan

Now that the final investment decision (FID) has been made, construction is set to begin in January next year, with a view to be operational by 2026. Then, Porthos will store around 2.5 million tonnes of CO2 per year for 15 years, amounting to 37 million tonnes in total.

Source: Porthos

Now that the EBN (Energie Beheer Nederland), Gasunie and the Port of Rotterdam Authority have initiated the project, companies Air Liquide, Air Products, ExxonMobil and Shell will capture the CO2 at their industrial facilities near Rotterdam and input it to a pipeline extending about 30km across Rotterdam’s port area.

Once it has reached the compressor station at Maasvlakte (an extension of the port), the gas will be pressured and then transported via an offshore pipeline to the Dutch North Sea, about 12 miles offshore. There, it will be pumped down 3-4km beneath the seabed and injected into a sealed, empty reservoir of porous sandstone which once held gas, where temperature and pressure will be closely monitored.

Finance to realise the vision

Due to the size and complexity of the project, it has faced not only legal challenges to step through but a 1.3-billion-euro investment requirement to see infrastructure to fruition. The European Union (EU) marked it a Project of Common Interest for meeting climate goals and invested a 102 million euro subsidy to accelerate it.

The Dutch government set aside 2.1 billion euros in grants from the SDE++ scheme for the project’s customers, which should help to balance the rates for CO2 emission allowances and the costs involved in the CCS process. This could allow companies to retain a competitive advantage while cutting their carbon emissions.

Source: Porthos

The passing of the FID has been a major milestone, and a green light for construction to go ahead. The director of Porthos, Hans Meeuwsen said: “CO2 storage is crucial if we want to achieve the climate goals in the Netherlands. This investment decision is an important starting point for future developments in CO2 storage in the Netherlands.”

Ahead of shovels in January, contracts have already been awarded contracts to kick off the project. MAN Energy Solutions won the contract to provide three integrally-geared compressor trains while Dutch group Allseas has also secured a major roles in its construction.

The latter’s chief executive Pieter Heerema noted: “We are delighted that the Porthos partnership recognised Allseas’ offshore installation capability as being key to the success of this landmark project.”

From Europe to the North Sea

According to the International Energy Agency, the production, transport and processing of oil and gas was responsible for around 5.1 billion tonnes of CO2 in 2022 across the world, stating the importance of CCS as a strategy in their report.

Offshore sites in the Dutch North Sea for CO2 storage have been investigated since over a decade ago. The importance of CCS for climate mitigation is mentioned in the Dutch Climate Agreement, as the Netherlands commits to climate goals of being climate neutral in 2050.

The Port of Rotterdam was considered responsible for a large amount of the city’s greenhouse gas emissions, and as much as 20% of Dutch domestic emissions. Improvements have been made over time, and further wind generation may still play a key role in additional decarbonisation efforts, but all being well Europe’s largest CCS facility to date is expected to result in about 10% overall less CO2e for the port.

And while Porthos becomes a reality, the developers of the UK’s flagship CCUS schemes have yet to make FIDs, pending further clarification from government.

Provided it remains on track for completion by 2026, Pothos may well set the standard and the ambition for the wider European CCS sector.

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