Progress update on the Porthos CCUS project in Rotterdam
The CCUS project Porthos focuses on the transport of CO2 from a variety of industrial facilities via a central basic infrastructure to depleted gas reservoirs deep under the North Sea bed, where it is subsequently stored.
Preparations got underway in 2018 to ensure that the CO2 infrastructure is ready to accommodate industrial parties that want to offer their captured CO2 for storage or potential use.
A feasibility study for the project was rounded off in early 2018. This study made clear that the Porthos project is not only a viable option in technical terms, but also cost-efficient in comparison with other measures that can contribute to the realisation of the goals set out in the Paris Agreement.
In a follow-up to this study, various aspects of the project have been studied in more detail, including technical matters (the route of the pipeline, which type of pipeline, etc) and the supply of CO2 by the contributing companies.
Five companies in Rotterdam’s port area have already indicated an interest in participating in CCUS in the short term. Over the past year, we have met with these companies to discuss a possible hook-up to the Porthos system and their supply of CO2 to the network. They have estimated how much CO2 they can capture at their facilities and feed into the Porthos system, and when they could make a start with this. Many companies in these industries shut down for scheduled maintenance every five years or so. This down-time can be used to install systems for capturing CO2
Large-scale infrastructure projects like Porthos often have a lead time of roughly five years. Half of this period is required for preparations, half for realising the planned system and taking it into operation. Combined with the ambitious target set by the Dutch government – to reduce the volume of CO2 emissions by almost 50% by 2030 – this means that ‘time’ has become a crucial factor. In 2019, the parties behind the Porthos initiative (EBN, Gasunie and the Port of Rotterdam Authority) will be continuing with their preparations in the knowledge that CCUS is widely acknowledged as an effective and necessary instrument for the realisation of the climate goals. This technology is expected to play a role in the final version of the Dutch government’s Climate Agreement (Klimaatakkoord). By continuing with the preparations, the partners can avoid it taking longer than required before the region can actually start to sequester CO2.
In 2019, the project partners will continue to study a number of technical questions, including the pipeline layout, the best site for a compressor station, the diameters of the pipelines and the ins and outs of storing CO2 in the sea bed of the North Sea. A share of these preparatory studies may be tendered to third parties.
In 2019, the project team will continue its consultations with potential CO2 suppliers in Rotterdam’s port area. Other companies will also be given the opportunity to indicate whether or not they want to feed CO2 into the Porthos system. After all, Porthos is conceived as an ‘open’, non-discriminatory infrastructure for the transport and storage of CO2.
We expect to be able to share the results of various preparatory studies that are still underway in the second quarter of 2019. After this, it will take at least another year before the partners can finalise their decision whether or not to move forward with the project.
In 2019, the partners will also be doing the necessary work in the context of various permit procedures. They will be paying extra attention to making sure that all stakeholders are provided with clear and accessible information and transparent communication. This process will start with the government’s publication of a so-called Notitie Reikwijdte en Detailniveau (Memorandum on Scope and Level of Detail, NRD), which sets down which aspects need to be researched and reported on in the subsequent Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA). All stakeholders have an opportunity to submit their views. The EIA is a crucial step towards obtaining the required permits for the Porthos project. The EIA provides insight into the permit procedures that need to be rounded off before work can start on the project’s realisation.
All in all, the calendar for 2019 already includes a wide range of activities that relate to Porthos in some way or other. We will regularly be communicating about further developments. At present, the activities are still all preparatory in nature: the definite decision whether or not to go ahead with the project will be taken in the course of 2020. Up until that point, the project partners will not be taking any irreversible decisions.