Milestone reached for Rotterdam’s liquid CO2 facility

Dutch companies Gasunie and Vopak have welcomed Shell and TotalEnergies to a project that aims to build a liquid carbon dioxide (CO2) terminal at the Maasvlakte in the Port of Rotterdam.

The open access terminal will allow customers not connected to a CO2 pipeline to ship liquid CO2 and will also be connected to depleted gas fields in the North Sea via the Aramis trunkline for storage.

It can also be leveraged as a part of the carbon capture and storage (CCS) chains and a potential future carbon utilisation industry, said the partners.

The CO2next terminal is seen as crucial for the Dutch climate agreement and the European Green Deal, aiding CO2 reduction for Northwest Europe industry and aiming for a CO2-neutral Rotterdam port by 2050.

“We are pleased to see the CO2next project firming up,” said Fulco van Geuns, Project Director at CO2next. “CCS is recognised as required to enable the decarbonisation of the hard to abate industries and we see a clear role for such a liquid CO2 terminal in the European CO2 infrastructure.”

The project developers revealed that potential customers for the terminal were approached in 2022, which to date has led to several customers who are keen to make use of the terminal to pursue decarbonisation targets.

Upon launch the terminal will handle around 5.4 million tonnes per annum (mtpa) of CO2 and could grow to 15 mtpa, depending on market demand and the development of the Aramis project and wider CCS chains.

The CO2next terminal is slated to begin commercial operations in 2028, following final investment decision planned for 2025.

Port of Rotterdam’s CO2 emissions

The Port of Rotterdam is home to a wide range of industrial facilities, including coal and gas-fired power plants and chemical and oil refineries.

In 2023, CO2 emissions in the port decreased by 2.2 million tonnes (10%) compared to 2022. Emissions are one third lower than in 2016, the peak year in terms of CO2 emissions in the port.

According to authorities, in 2023 CO2 emissions levels (20.3 million tonnes) dipped under those of reference year 1990 (20.6 million tonnes) for the first time.

Source: EUROPA – Environment – Kyoto Protocol – European Union Transaction Log with greenhouse gas emissions in CO2 equivalents by companies that fall under the European emissions trading system (EU ETS). About 95% of CO2 emissions in the port come from companies that are part of the EU ETS. For the remaining 5%, the emissions from 2022 were used as the point of reference, the source being the Dutch Emission Registration.

The decrease was caused mainly by the two coal-fired power stations on the Maasvlakte. In 2023, these plants emitted a total of over two million tonnes less CO2 than in 2022.

Emissions from three gas-fired power plants in the port rose by 100,000 tonnes. Despite a 20% drop in fossil-based electricity from five energy plants, refinery production stayed stable. CO2 emissions increased by 1% and lower gas prices in 2023 did not boost chemical industry production, reducing its CO2 emissions by 200,000 tonnes.

To decrease CO2 emissions in the port by 55% by 2030 compared to 1990, the port must achieve a CO2 reduction of 9.3 million tonnes by 2030.

The projects that the industry, the Port of Rotterdam Authority and their partners are currently working on in the port add up to emissions of 8.1 million tonnes in 2030.

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