Blythe (L) and Southwark (R) platforms - IOG

IOG supports research to test carbon storage sites in North Sea

UK gas company IOG plc is supporting research that will identify, examine, and test carbon storage sites and other low-carbon renewable options in the Southern North Sea.

Blythe (L) and Southwark (R) platforms; Source: IOG
Core project - Phase 1 development - IOG
IOG’s Core project – Phase 1 development; Source: IOG

IOG said on Friday it has signed a collaboration agreement with GeoNetZero CDT, Heriot-Watt University’s Centre for Doctoral Training, which is applying geoscience to the challenges of progress towards a net-zero economy.

Under this agreement, IOG will support research into carbon capture and storage (CCS) and other renewable opportunities across quads 48, 49, 52 and 53, the location of its asset portfolio, and broader Bacton catchment area in the UK Southern North Sea (SNS).

IOG has previously completed the acquisition of the onshore Thames Reception Facilities at Bacton Gas Terminal and this facility is being refurbished as part of IOG’s Phase 1 development. The terminal is on the coast of Norfolk in the east of the UK.

Phase 1 comprises the development and production of the Southwark, Blythe, and Elgood gas fields through a total of five production wells with gas transported onshore to Bacton via the 24-inch Thames Pipeline.

The Final Investment Decision (FID) on Phase 1 was declared in October 2019, the Field Development Plan (FDP) was approved by the UK government in April 2020, and the first gas is planned for late 3Q 2021.

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IOG emphasised that it supports the UK government’s net-zero target and the revised OGA Strategy’s promotion of CCS to help decarbonise the North Sea and progress the energy transition.

The company also believes that the infrastructure, knowledge, and skills generated by over 50 years of the SNS gas industry can play a constructive role in this transition.

According to the company, extending the economic life of the SNS basin in a sustainable way is likely to involve long-term integration of the established gas industry with wind, hydrogen, and CCS solutions.

In particular, a successful blue hydrogen-CCS cluster in the Bacton area will require consistent gas supply – IOG’s core business – as well as steam reformation facilities and secure offshore carbon storage sites, all in reasonable proximity.

This important latter storage element is the focus of this research, filling the gap in the geological analysis of the factors that maintain seal integrity at subsurface sites.

Drawing on an extensive gas industry archive of seismic, well and core data, the key focus will be on proving which fields and aquifers across the Bacton catchment area are the most suitable carbon sinks, particularly where existing infrastructure could provide operational synergies.

Andrew Hockey, CEO of IOG, commented: “We are very pleased to support GeoNetZero CDT’s valuable research into carbon storage across our operating area. This collaboration demonstrates our support for the UK’s Net Zero commitment, the new OGA Strategy and the recently announced North Sea Transition Deal.

“IOG is committed to Bacton and its catchment area, where we have established a long-term strategic position to underpin our growth into a safe and sustainable UK gas producer. The area benefits from substantial remaining gas resources, extensive transportation and processing infrastructure and proximity to major markets.

“In that context, rigorous technical analysis of nearby CCS potential is a key element in validating the investment thesis for blue hydrogen. This will inform the roadmap towards a decarbonised energy hub at Bacton that could bring new economic opportunities and extend the life of existing infrastructure”.

Professor John Underhill, Head of GeoNetZero CDT, commented: “I am delighted that IOG has elected to support research that will identify, examine and test carbon storage sites and other low-carbon renewable options in the Southern North Sea.

“This support shows that industry recognises the relevance and impact of our research at the GeoNetZero CDT and Heriot-Watt University to decarbonise the North Sea, deliver the UK’s transition to Net Zero and maintain sustainable energy supplies”.