Norway plans $750 mln carbon technology centre

OSLO, Jan 30 (Reuters) - The Norwegian government proposed on Friday to spend $750 million to build a centre for development of carbon capture and storage (CCS) technology at oil and gas group StatoilHydro's STL.OL Mongstad refinery.

Policymakers and industry have big hopes for CCS, which involves burying carbon dioxide (CO2) underground or below the seabed, as a means of fighting climate change.

The government estimated investment costs of the new centre at 5.2 billion Norwegian crowns ($750.2 million) and said it aimed to make Norway a pioneer in the field of CCS.

“CO2 capture is a cornerstone of Norwegian climate policy,” Petroleum and Energy Minister Terje Riis-Johansen said in a statement.

“The that the technology centre for CO2 capture should create an arena for development, testing and qualifying of technology and should contribute to international dissemination of this experience,” the oil ministry said in the statement.

The proposal to parliament sets out a project where the state would initially have an 80 percent stake and StatoilHydro 20 percent, but other industrial partners could join later to reduce the state’s stake, the ministry said.

The partners should aim to make an investment decision once the detailed basis for doing that is completed towards the end of the first quarter of 2009, and the centre would take about two and a half years to build, the ministry said.

StatoilHydro has been burying a million tonnes of C02 per year under the seabed at its Sleipner field in the North Sea since 1996.

That activity involves stripping CO2 from the natural gas well stream at Sleipner, as opposed to capturing carbon dioxide emissions from an industrial plant.

Reporting by John Acher