European gas and oil company Wintershall Dea is working with OTH Regensburg University of Applied Sciences to assess the possibility that existing natural gas pipelines in the North Sea could be repurposed for transporting liquid carbon dioxide (CO2).

The partnership comes ahead of this year’s COP26 summit, during which the potential for carbon capture, utilisation and storage (CCUS) will be a major talking point.

Experts estimate that around 800 million tonnes of CO2 could be stored in the southern North Sea in areas such as depleted reservoirs operated by Wintershall Noordzee, a joint venture between Wintershall Dea and Gazprom.

With initial results showing that existing pipelines could be well suited for liquid CO2 transport, Klaus Langemann, Senior Vice President of Carbon Management and Hydrogen, Wintershall Dea, said that the company is optimistic about further investigations.

“We have the technological know-how and the depleted offshore reservoirs required for CCS, as well as access to the pipeline network for transport,” he added.

The study could be an essential part of driving the energy transition, especially in sectors that produce unavoidable process emissions such as steel, cement, and chemical.

Wintershall Dea intends to reduce its Scope 1 and 2 greenhouse gas emissions in its exploration and production activities by 2030. Beyond 2030 the company will look into using CCS and hydrogen to reduce its Scope 3 emissions.