Under the terms of the agreement, signed by UK Energy Minister Malcolm Wicks, and Odd Roger Enoksen, his Norwegian counterpart, both countries will explore areas of cooperation to encourage injection and permanent storage of CO2 beneath the North Sea.

“This technology could cut the level of CO2 emissions from power stations by up to 90%,” Mr Wicks said. “It is estimated that we have the capacity under the UK Continental Shelf to store our total carbon emissions for decades to come. Norway has already taken a significant world lead in offshore geological storage of CO2 with the Sleipner Project, building up considerable knowledge and experience in this field. We, along with other countries around the North Sea Basin can learn from their work.”

Carbon sequestration separates CO2 from coal and gas firing power stations, and then pumps it into depleted oil fields via disused pipelines.

A demonstration project set up by BP and Scottish and Southern Energy earlier this year is also operating in the North Sea.

“It is interesting to note that while the North Sea’s resources have provided us with significant benefits over recent decades, it now also has the potential to provide a solution to help mitigate the harmful effects of carbon emissions,” said Wicks. “Which is why Minister Enoksen and I are pleased to announce a new task force made up of companies and public organisations from countries bordering the North sea which will look at the regulatory issues and management of carbon sequestration in the region.”

“The Energy review which was announced yesterday will consider the policy options to ensure that the UK is on track to meet the goals of the Energy White paper in the medium and long term i.e. for 2010 and beyond. Where necessary it will refine existing policies to ensure these aims are met. Within the context of this review, Carbon Capture and Storage is increasingly becoming a serious longer-term option.”

The Carbon Abatement Technology Strategy, announced by Malcolm Wicks in June this year, recognised that incentives may be needed to encourage the development of these technologies. The Climate Change Programme Review has been looking at the need for incentives and will comment on these when it is published in the near future. It is expected that the Energy Review will also look in further detail at the need and scope of such incentives.

David Hopkins

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