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.

Current CEF Action

The current CEF Action (Action number 12.2-0036-UKNL-S-M-18) for the Acorn CO2 SAPLING PPCI) supports the front-end engineering studies and pipeline inspection on the transport infrastructure for Acorn CCS Phase 1 project, as well as studies into the transnational build-out programme. 

This Action commenced in November 2019 and is being run as a fully integrated part of the Acorn CCS front-end engineering studies that will complete in March 2021. 

Within the funding agreement, support is provided for a pipeline inspection survey of the Goldeneye pipeline, and further studies into the import and export infrastructure.  The timing of the pipeline inspection survey is influenced by the seasonal survey windows and the project is currently looking to deploy this through the spring/summer season of 2021.  This means, subject to agreement with the Innovation and Networks Executive Agency (INEA) which manages the CEF funds, that Action 12.2-0036 would be completed by October 2021.

Current Action and Scope of Activities

The scope of the current CEF Action 12.2-0036-UKNL-S-M-18, addresses 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

Upon completion of the Action, the design of the Goldeneye pipeline and associated subsea elements the cost base of the PCI and the business model will be at a level of definition and maturity to allow for 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 is being managed as part of an integrated programme with funding from the UK CCUS Innovation Fund.  The Action will also enable knowledge sharing between other European CO2 transport projects. 

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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