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Costain selected by Pale Blue Dot to accelerate the UK’s first carbon capture and storage (CCS) project

Costain selected by Pale Blue Dot to accelerate the UK’s first carbon capture and storage (CCS) project


2 March 2020

Costain, the smart infrastructure solutions company, has won the next phase of work providing technical consultancy services to Pale Blue Dot Energy to deliver what could be the UK’s first carbon capture and storage (CCS) project and part of helping the energy and transport industries meet the Scottish and UK Government net zero carbon emissions targets.

The Acorn CCS project is a low-cost, scalable carbon capture and storage scheme that will not only enable the cost efficient capture and storage of current carbon emissions from the onshore gas facilities at the St Fergus terminal in Scotland, but is also a key enabler for the Acorn Hydrogen project where North Sea natural gas will be reformed into clean hydrogen for blending into the gas grid to decarbonise heating in homes and industries throughout the UK and potential use for other applications such as decarbonised transport.

The system is also designed to be an enabler of other capture and storage projects including provision of CO2 shipping facilities in Peterhead Port and repurposing the existing Feeder 10 pipeline to enable capture of CO2 from Central Scotland. The current phase of the project is led by Pale Blue Dot Energy Ltd, supported by study partners Shell, Total and Chrysaor and part funded through BEIS and INEA as a European Project of Common Interest.

Acorn is designed to be built quickly, taking advantage of existing oil and gas infrastructure and a well understood offshore CO2 storage site which has the first UK CO2 appraisal and storage licence to be awarded by the Oil and Gas Authority. The reuse of existing high capacity on and offshore pipelines will save up to £750 million on the overall Acorn project. The St Fergus gas terminal receives around 35% of all UK natural gas and provides direct access to the UK gas grid. In addition to this, St Fergus is located close to a high concentration of offshore CO2 storage sites making it an ideal hydrogen production and CCS hub.

Costain is providing concept design and front-end engineering design support, including onshore gas flue gas collection, CO2 capture integration, CO2 compression and conditioning located at St Fergus and offshore subsea systems design including repurposing of the existing Goldeneye pipeline and a new CCS hub located near the Goldeneye Field. Costain will draw on its operational expertise and deep process industry knowledge gained over 70 years of overseeing the design and build, technology selection and optimisation for large-scale gas processing and separation facilities including CO2 and hydrogen separation in petrochemical, refinery and ammonia production applications.

Rob Phillips, energy sector director, Costain, said: “Hydrogen and CCS play a fundamental role in decarbonising gas for domestic and industrial heating, powering industry and large-scale transport. Large-scale and relatively cost-effective carbon capture at the source of production is key to unlocking this potential and is one of the many low carbon solutions Costain is progressing as part of leading the decarbonisation of the UK footprint and driving clean growth across the UK.

“This contract builds on work Costain has previously delivered on the scheme and extends our relationship with Pale Blue Dot Energy. The Acorn CCS project and other hydrogen initiatives we are involved with such as the North West Hydrogen Alliance and pioneering the deblending of hydrogen, will help enable CO2 capture and hydrogen production in the immediate term and pave the way for a hydrogen economy, bringing the UK much closer to a sustainable energy future.”

Russ Gilbert, project director, Acorn CCS, said: “Acorn is a critical project for realising the UK and Scotland’s Net Zero commitments. We are working extremely hard alongside our study partners: Chrysaor, Shell and Total, to deliver the different phases of this project to a timeline that is fully aligned with the Government’s emission reduction targets and should achieve first injection of CO2 into the Acorn store by 2024. In order to achieve this, we need to work with high-performing organisations that understand the importance of this work. Costain is one such organisation which has played a key role in helping us get the project to this stage due to their deep understanding of the existing oil and gas infrastructure, its re-use for CO2 service, associated technical processes and their experience in managing and delivering complex work programmes.”

Click here to read an article by our carbon capture expert Adrian Finn, detailing ways to capture carbon cost effectively and recently published in Carbon Capture Journal.


Notes to Editors

Carbon capture and storage (CCS) is the name given to a combination of technologies that captures and stores carbon dioxide deep underground, preventing its release into the atmosphere.

Project information

Acorn CCS has been designated a European Project of Common Interest (PCI) and together with Acorn Hydrogen, is a very important catalyst for clean growth in the north east of the UK and beyond. 

Find out more about the project here - https://pale-blu.com/acorn/

About Costain

Costain helps to improve people’s lives with integrated, leading edge, smart infrastructure solutions across the UK’s energy, water, transportation and defence markets. We help our clients improve their business performance by increasing capacity, improving customer service, safeguarding security, enhancing resilience, decarbonising and delivering increased efficiency. Our vision is to be the UK’s leading smart infrastructure solutions company. We will achieve this by focusing on blue chip clients whose major spending plans are underpinned by strategic national needs, regulatory commitments, legislation or essential performance requirements. We offer our clients leading edge solutions that are digitally optimised through the following five services which cover the whole lifecycle of their assets: future-shaping strategic consultancy; consultancy and advisory; digital technology solutions; asset optimisation and complex programme delivery.  Our culture and values underpin everything we do.

Energy overview

Costain is a trusted partner to government, industry and network operators, helping to transform the UK’s energy infrastructure to ensure security of supply and decarbonisation by 2050.

Costain has been offering engineering consultancy to the energy sector for 75 years and has been central to the evolution of the UK’s energy infrastructure. As the UK moves towards decarbonisation, we are drawing on this knowledge and experience to anticipate future challenges and opportunities, provide leading insights and shape practical solutions to achieve our clients’ objectives.

We act as technical advisers on processes and systems that will enable the transition to a hydrogen economy. Our knowledge of gas processing and safe gas handling enables us to support business case development as well as design, implementation and operation of hydrogen infrastructure and associated network upgrade and carbon capture and storage requirements. 

We are experienced in managing complex projects, dealing with the UK’s legacy waste, and supporting nuclear decommissioning and asset life extension as well as nationally strategic programmes in nuclear new-build and generation. We solve industry challenges by forming collaborative partnerships with research facilities to accelerate development of new technologies.

About Pale Blue Dot Energy

Pale Blue Dot Energy develop projects that encourage clean growth and make a significant contribution to a future net zero economy. Acorn is their flagship project. As the originators and lead developer of Acorn, they are  passionate about seeing the project delivered and are pleased to be leading the development of the technical and commercial work to implement the first phase of the project.