Shell’s JV orders 1st LNG-fueled, wind-assisted CO2 carriers

Northern Lights, Shell’s joint venture with energy majors Equinor and TotalEnergies, has placed an order for two LNG-powered, wind-assisted CO2 carriers at China’s Dalian Shipbuilding Industry Co. (DSIC).

Under the contract, the Chinese shipbuilder will build two vessels, each with a cargo size of 7,500 cbm and a length of 130 meters. They are designed to transport liquid CO2 with purpose-built pressurised cargo tanks.

The ships will use liquefied natural gas (LNG) as a primary fuel, which is expected to keep the harmful emissions low. What is more, they will be equipped with wind-assisted propulsion system and air lubrication technology, anticipated to reduce carbon intensity by around 34% compared to conventional systems. 

“The use of ships will enable the development of a flexible and efficient European infrastructure network for transport of CO2 captured by our industrial customers, keeping costs as low as possible to help decarbonisation scale up,” Børre Jacobsen, Managing Director of Northern Lights JV stated.

“Responding to the low emission strategy, DSIC worked together with Northern Lights for the development of the selected technical solutions over the last two years. The cooperation and efforts by both parties has been materialized in the award of these contracts today,” Riqiang Hu, Marketing Director of DSIC added.

Once in operation, the units will load captured and liquefied CO2 from European emitters and transport it to the Northern Lights receiving terminal in Øygarden in western Norway. The CO2 volumes will be accurately measured and reported throughout the value chain. These will be independently verified, and the necessary documentation provided to regulators and customs officials.

The CO2 carriers, which are slated for delivery by mid-2024, are “the first of its kind and will potentially set a new standard for CO2 shipping on coastal trading routes”, the company highlighted.

“Through its cross-border CO2 transport and storage infrastructure, Northern Lights is enabling the first European full-scale carbon capture and storage (CCS) value chain, paving the way for cost reductions and scale-up of similar, future projects.”

This March, the Norwegian government finally approved the development plan for Northern Lights, the storage part of the Longship carbon capture and storage project.

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The approved plan has the capacity to store 1,5 million tonnes CO2 annually, and a planned operation period of 25 years.