Acorn CO2 SAPLING Project of Common Interest

Project Background

Acorn CO2 SAPLING PCI aims to establish a strategic and transnational CO2 transportation infrastructure capable of delivering over 12Mt/y of CO2 from emissions sources around the North Sea for permanent storage in deep geological storage sites located beneath the Central North Sea.

In addition to supporting the development of key European CO2 transportation infrastructure, Acorn CO2 SAPLING can provide a model for similar hubs in Europe and elsewhere, where petroleum assets may be suitable for re-use – delivering significant transnational benefits.

The project has a long-term outlook to 2060 – the expected operational lifetime of current assets. This aligns well with the EU vision of CO2 emissions reduction targets, and there is no reason why this initiative cannot continue beyond this timeframe due to the significant potential capacity within the North Sea for the permanent, safe and cost-effective storage of CO2.


CO2 from H2 production hub

Around 35% of all UK natural gas comes onshore at St Fergus – an ideal site for a major hydrogen production hub. Hydrogen at St Fergus can be fed directly into the gas grid for blending and decarbonising gas.

Shipped CO2 to Peterhead Port

Use of the deep water port at Peterhead to include CO2 import facilites.

CO2 from Grangemouth cluster and beyond

CO2 from Grangemouth cluster is piped to St Fergus through Feeder 10 – a natural gas pipeline ready for reuse.

Connecting Europe Facility (CEF) Funding

As a recognised European Project of Common Interest (PCI), Acorn CO2 SAPLING has benefited from two rounds of Connecting Europe Facility (CEF) funding from the European Commission for different phases of the project.  The first award was match funded by the UK Government Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy, the Scottish Government, Total E&P UK Limited and Pale Blue Dot Energy.

The current CEF funding has been matched by Pale Blue Dot Energy, Chrysaor, Shell and Total under a technical development studies agreement.

CEF Actions

12.2-0020-UKBE-S-M-20 (Ongoing)

The Action is part of PCI 12.2 CO2 Sapling. This PCI aims to establish a strategic transnational CO2 transportation infrastructure capable of delivering over 12 Mt CO2/year from emissions sources around the North Sea for permanent sequestration in offshore geological storage. PCI 12.2 is the transportation infrastructure component of the Acorn full chain Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS) project.

The main objective of the Action is to progress the CO2 import/export facilities and infrastructure between the Port of Peterhead and the Acorn CCS hub at St Fergus in the UK. The scope is to undertake the necessary Front End Engineering Design (FEED) studies. The Action will also enhance the maturity of the offshore build-out requirements to accommodate the additional CO2 volumes from import and to allow the operator support and subsea activity for the inline pipeline survey. It also includes the Health, Safety and Environment (HSE), commercial, finance and stakeholder activities required to support the technical activities.

Once completed, the Action will result in a significant proportion of the technical studies finalised in view of reaching a Final Investment Decision (FID) for the CO2 import/export facilities and infrastructure between the Port of Peterhead and St Fergus Gas Terminal.

12.2-0036-UKNL-S-M-18 (Completed)

The scope of the CEF Action 12.2-0036-UKNL-S-M-18 addressed the requirements of the existing and proposed CO2 transport infrastructure linked to the Acorn CCS project, including the transnational build-out programme.

The Action involves Front-End Engineering Design (FEED) studies of the CO2 transport infrastructure for the Acorn CCS Phase 1 project and an internal inspection survey of the Goldeneye pipeline (a former natural gas pipeline between St Fergus gas terminal in the UK and the Acorn CO2 storage license area in the North Sea). The Action also includes linked studies into the feasibility of CO2 import/export at Peterhead Port and optioneering for a UK-Norway interconnector pipeline. The Action supports health, safety and environmental (HSE) aspects for this infrastructure. The Action has four main activities:

Activity 1 – Front-End Engineering and Design (FEED) studies for the offshore pipeline system and its inspection

Activity 2 – Study on the CO2 import/export facilities at North Sea Ports

Activity 3 – Health, Safety and Environment studies, to support the above activities

Activity 4 – Management of the Action

The Action has allowed the design of the Goldeneye pipeline, associated subsea elements of the cost base of the PCI, and the business model to progress further in definition and maturity towards a Final Investment Decision. This decision also depends on a similar level of definition and maturity being achieved for the CO2 capture, geological storage and well drilling, which is why the Action was being managed as part of an integrated programme with funding from the UK CCUS Innovation Fund. The Action also enabled knowledge sharing between other European CO2 transport projects. Subject to final close out with The European Climate, Infrastructure and Environment Executive Agency (CINEA) this action has been completed.

National Competent Authority

As a Project of Common Interest, the Acorn Project is subject to the TEN-E Regulations. Under Article 8(1) of the TEN-E Regulation, Member States are required to designate a “National Competent Authority” (NCA) that will co-ordinate and facilitate the comprehensive decision and provide a single point of contact for developers. For the UK, the designated NCA is the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy.

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