Shell to test CCS technology for Peterhead at TCM

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The carbon dioxide capture technology that will be used at the ground-breaking Peterhead gas-fired power station in the UK is to be tested at the Technology Centre Mongstad (TCM) in Norway. Shell subsidiary Shell Cansolv has reached an agreement with carbon capture and storage (CCS) research facility to test its advanced carbon dioxide capture process at TCM’s existing amine plant.

The development signals a new era of testing for the TCM facility, with technologies being honed in preparation for CCS commercialisation, rather than just testing to verify their validity.

In what could become the first-ever industrial-scale application of CCS at a gas-fired power station, Shell announced in February that it had agreed to progress the Peterhead CCS project to the next phase of design. The project is part of the UK government’s CCS commercialisation competition and in March 2013 was short-listed as one of the two preferred projects bidding for funding.

Post-combustion capture: The Peterhead project is based on post-combustion capture and will use amines to absorb the carbon dioxide, a method that has been used by the industry for around 50 years. It has already been demonstrated as feasible, having been deployed in several small installations in the United States and, says Shell, is recognised as the best available technology for post-combustion carbon dioxide capture.

Diagram showing Shell's proposed pipeline from Peterhead plant joining with St Fergus gas terminal pipeline

Shell intends to build a short new pipeline from Peterhead power station and link this into an existing offshore pipeline from St Fergus to the Goldeneye reservoir. (Source: Shell)

“This is a milestone for TCM,” said Tord Lien, the Norwegian minister of Petroleum and Energy during a recent visit to the facility [centre in the photograph above]. “I am very content that there is a global interest to use TCM and that new vendors can test out their technologies. That confirms that the facility represents an important contribution to the global efforts to develop cost-effective carbon dioxide capture technology.”

The test campaign will be performed using exhaust gas from the Combined Heat and Power Plant at Mongstad, with a focus on process verification and emission control. The testing, scheduled to start in the third quarter of this year, will last for about five months.

Full-scale projects: “TCM is very happy to be able to perform testing with one of the leading vendors in the CCS industry,” said TCM’s managing director Frank Ellingsen [right in the photograph above]. “Shell Cansolv is supplying its technology to full-scale projects coming on stream throughout the world.

“A prime example is the integrated carbon dioxide capture system project at Boundary Dam power station in Estevan, Saskatchewan, Canada. The regenerable Cansolv carbon dioxide capture system offers a method to remove up to 90% of the carbon dioxide from exhaust gases.”

Technology Centre Mongstad – a joint venture between Gassnova on behalf of the Norwegian state, Statoil, Shell and Sasol – is the world’s largest facility for testing and verifying carbon dioxide capture technologies. It claims to be only place in the world with the testing capability for Shell Cansolv’s needs. Shell Cansolv flagship projects include Peterhead and Boundary Dam.

TCM started its operations with two major CCS vendors – Aker and Alstom – in the spring of 2012. Since then, says the centre, much knowledge has been accumulated to improve technologies and reduce risks.

This ramping up of the large scale testing and application of Shell’s most advanced CCS technology is part of the oil and gas major’s latest commitment to manage its carbon dioxide footprint through CCS. The Peterhead initiative is part of a portfolio of major CCS projects supported by Shell. Others include the Quest oil sands project in Alberta, Canada, and the Gorgon LNG project in Australia.

Critical role for CCS: Dr JJ Traynor, Exec VP, Investor Relations, Shell said, “The role of CCS in helping the world to avoid the worst effects of climate change is critical.  Recognising the central role in the energy system that hydrocarbons currently play, without CCS emissions reduction will be more difficult, disruptive to the world’s economy, standard of living and cause more economic hardship.”

By Alex Forbes