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Norway and Britain to cooperate on underwater CO2 storage
OSLO (AFP) Nov 30, 2005
Norway's government said on Wednesday it had agreed to work with Britain in developing a system for injecting carbon dioxide emitted on land into oil fields under the ocean floor in the North Sea.

Norwegian Minister of Petroleum and Energy Odd Roger Enoksen and his British counterpart Malcolm Wicks agreed at a seminar in London that their countries should "take bilateral steps to explore possible areas of co-operation to encourage injection and permanent storage of CO2 in geological structures beneath the seabed".

The procedure of injecting CO2 into submarine oil fields would help push out more oil and at the same time limit emissions of the gas that causes climate change.

The solution has been regarded as attractive in Norway, which is the world's third largest oil exporter after Saudi Arabia and Russia and has signed the Kyoto Protocol on climate change.

The method is, however, for now considered too costly and too risky.

Last April, the Norwegian Petroleum Directorate concluded in a report that the method was not yet viable due to the fact that it calls for large volumes of CO2 "at the right place and at the right time", high transport costs as well as a long line of expensive changes made to the platforms themselves.

Norway is one of the countries in Europe emitting the most CO2 per inhabitant, largely due to its booming offshore oil and gas production.

An alternative to pumping CO2 into existing oil fields would be injecting the greenhouse gas into fields that have already been depleted.

These technologies could cut C02 emissions from power stations by up to 90 percent.

"It is estimated that we have the capacity under the UK Continental Shelf to store our total carbon emissions for decades to come. The UK, Norway and surrounding North Sea rim countries have tremendous potential for injection and permanent storage of CO2 waste which will go a long way to help us cut harmful emissions," Wicks said.

Britain aims to reduce its emissions by 20 percent by 2010 and by as much as 60 percent by 2050. Prime Minister Tony Blair on Tuesday hinted that the country may relaunch its nuclear power program in order to meet these targets.

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