OSLO (Reuters) - By 2022, Norway could realize every step in the development of a technology many see as critical to reducing global carbon emissions, carbon capture and storage (CCS), it said on Monday.
Oslo said it could capture carbon dioxide from an industrial plant, transport it by ship and inject it into an empty North Sea oil and gas reservoir for 4.3 billion to 7.6 billion crowns ($915 million to $515 million) by 2022.
If it goes ahead with the plan, it could help lower carbon emissions worldwide: the International Energy Agency says deployment of carbon capture and storage (CCS) technology is critical to reducing carbon emissions but wide adoption of the technology has been frustrated partly due to high costs.
In 2014 Canada's Saskatchewan Power opened the world's first coal-fired power plant retrofitted with CCS and there are now 15 large-scale CCS projects in operation, according to the Global CCS Institute, an Australian-based lobby.
But the transportation and storage infrastructure is still problematic, with a large up-front investment needed.
Oslo said it could be possible to set up every step in the process within six years, according to a feasibility study released on Monday by the Norwegian oil and energy ministry.
"The cost for planning and investment for such a chain is estimated at between 7.2 and 12.6 billion crowns (excluding VAT)," it said in a statement, adding the cost estimates had an uncertainty of 40 percent on the lower and upper end of the scale.
Three firms could capture gas at their plants, said the ministry: carbon dioxide at an ammonia plant run by fertiliser-maker Yara International and at a waste incinerator owned by Oslo city council, and flue gas at a cement factory owned by Germany's HeidelbergCement in southern Norway.
The carbon dioxide could then be transported by ship, said the ministry, citing North Sea gas infrastructure operator Gassco.
Finally it could be transported via pipeline from an onshore installation and into an empty oil and gas reservoir in the North Sea, said the ministry, citing oil firm Statoil.
The government said it would present further CCS plans in the 2017 state budget in October.
If the scheme goes ahead, it would be a big step for Norway: it had to drop plans in 2013 for a costly large-scale project to capture carbon dioxide that the then government once compared in ambition to sending people to the Moon.
($1 = 8.3193 Norwegian crowns)
Reporting by Gwladys Fouche; Editing by Ruth Pitchford