Northern Lights

Northern Lights breaks new ground: First-of-their-kind LCO2 carriers fitted with cargo tanks

In a pioneering feat of engineering, Northern Lights, a joint venture company of energy giants Shell, Equinor, and TotalEnergies, shared a new milestone in the construction of the company’s liquefied CO2 (LCO2) carriers.

Image credit: Northern Lights

Namely, the company’s first two vessels have been installed with custom-built 7,500 cubic meters cargo tanks. The vessels’ pressurized cargo tanks are designed for the transportation of liquefied CO2, contributing to a reduced carbon intensity compared to conventional alternatives.

“The tanks were delivered by Jiangsu Watts Energy & Engineering and represent a major milestone in the development of the Northern Lights CO2 shipping fleet that will transport CO2 from our customers in Norway and Europe for permanent storage on the Norwegian Continental Shelf,” Northern Lights JV said in an update on social media.

The construction of the first-of-their-kind vessels is well underway at China’s Dalian Shipbuilding Offshore Co. (DSOC) and the ships are on track to set sail in 2024.

The shipyard launched the construction of the two LNG-powered, wind-assisted CO2 carriers in November 2022, only to surpass the 60% completion mark a year later. The ships are expected to have around 34% lower carbon footprint compared to conventional ships running on marine fuel. 

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Once completed, they will embark on a mission to load captured and liquefied CO2 from industrial emitters and transport it to the Northern Lights receiving facilities in Øygarden, Norway, ushering in a new era of carbon capture, transport, and storage.

The Northern Lights’ carbon capture, transport, and storage project comprises the development of a receiving terminal, underwater infrastructure (including the pipeline, subs installations, and wells), intermediate storage tanks, and onshore facilities.

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The receiving terminal, currently in the commissioning phase with a remarkable 95% completion, is expected to be ready for operation this year. From there, the CO2 will be stored in onshore tanks before being transported through a pipeline to an offshore reservoir for permanent and safe storage at a 2,600-meter depth under the seabed. 

Northern Lights has placed an order for three wind-assisted LNG-fuelled LCO2 carriers and entered into a charter deal with Germany-based shipowning company Bernhard Schulte for a fourth vessel.

The latest 7,500 cbm vessel, ordered back in December 2023, will feature the same design as its predecessors.

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The fourth CO2 carrier is planned for delivery in 2026 when it is scheduled to start a long-term time charter with Northern Lights.

Northern Lights has signed a binding commercial agreement with Norwegian-based ammonia player Yara International which is expected to pave the way for the world’s first cross-border transportation and storage of CO2.