BP axes UK carbon project
Government failure to take positive action was the reason behind the oil company's decision to cancel its planned carbon capture and storage project in Peterhead
The Government's slowness in deciding on how to support carbon capture and storage (CCS) projects in the UK forced BP to scrap its planned hydrogen energy project at Peterhead, Scotland, the oil & gas company has explained.
Due to go into commercial operation around 2011, the project in the North Sea Miller oilfield involved using natural gas feedstock to generate some 475MW of electricity and capturing and storing some 1.8 million tonnes/year of CO2. Injection of the CO2 into the oilfield was also expected to increase recovery of oil from the reservoir by an estimated 50-60 million barrels.
"It was actually on Budget Day [21 March] when it became clear that the project wouldn't work," said a BP spokeswoman. That, she said, was when the then Chancellor Gordon Brown announced that a Government committee to examine how best to support carbon capture projects would not be set up until November.
The problem, said the BP representative, was that the [Miller] field was coming to the end of its life and the company needed either to get on and use it to sequestrate the carbon dioxide or to decommission it by removing the rig and sealing the wells.
"We really needed to know that we could go ahead this summer. Given that the government wouldn't be able to set up a task force to look at these projects until the fourth quarter, we decided that we would have to abandon the project," she added in a 10 July interview.
The demise of the Peterhead project coincided with BP's formation of the Hydrogen Energy venture with mining group Rio Tinto. Headquartered in Weybridge, UK, the company is to focus on hydrogen-fuelled power generation, using fossil fuels and CCS technology to produce electricity.
The new company will take over BP's other hydrogen-fuelled power project in Carson, California — a planned 500MW power project alongside BP's Carson refinery, near Los Angeles, which will capture some four million tonnes of CO2 a year and transport it for reinjection into geological formations in southern California.
A second project, for which studies have begun, will be a 500MW coal-based plant to be built alongside BP's Kwinana refinery in Western Australia. About four million tonnes a year of carbon dioxide would be captured and stored in an offshore, deep, geological formation.
BP, meanwhile, has entered a global alliance with GE to jointly develop and deploy technology for at least five power plants to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from electricity generation.