By Scott Wright

SCOTLAND’S net zero ambitions have been handed a major boost after two oil and gas heavyweights upped their commitment to a pioneering carbon capture storage and hydrogen project.

Shell and Harbour Energy, the company recently formed by the merger of giants Premier Oil and Chrysaor, have become equal partners with Storegga in the Acorn Project, one of the largest and most mature projects of its kind in the UK. It is expected that the project to deliver “critically important” CCS and hydrogen infrastructure will be operational in the mid-2020s, “providing a clear pathway to help Scotland and the UK to meet their net zero targets.”

The CCS part of the project involves taking carbon dioxide from the St Fergus gas terminal in Aberdeenshire, which processes oil and gas from offshore platforms and fields in the North Sea, and moving it via the Goldeneye pipeline for storage in an old gas field underground. In doing so, Acorn expects to store at least five mega tonnes of carbon dioxide per year by 2030.

The Acorn Project also has a broader role to play in decarbonising the energy system. This involves taking North Sea natural gas and reforming it as clean-burning hydrogen, with the associated carbon dioxide emissions captured and stored under the sea at a licensed Acorn site. This could be operational by the middle of the decade.

Shell and Habrour, as Chrysaor, have been involved in Acorn for some time, providing match funding for individual projects. The new agreement makes them equal partners with Storegga, which will continue to lead the project through its Pale Blue Dot Energy subsidiary.

Nick Cooper, chief executive of Storegga, said the new arrangement “allows us to look forward with confidence to the next few years as we race to tackle climate change in a way that’s sustainable, cost efficient and deliverable.”