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Last Updated: Thursday, 6 April 2006, 08:13 GMT 09:13 UK
Gas fields offer climate solution
BP Bruce gas rig
Infrastructure exists in the North Sea to store greenhouse gases
Scientists are seeking to give a new lease of life to redundant gas fields in the North Sea by turning them into storage areas for greenhouse gases.

A top geologist claims the depleted gas fields off Norfolk, Suffolk and Essex could become a billion-pound industry.

The government wants to stop release of emissions from power stations and large energy users into the environment.

Nick Riley, from the British Geological Survey, said strata emptied of natural gas could be used for emission storage.

North Sea gas supplies will run out in the next three decades and the UK produces more than 630,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide a year - a third of this comes from power stations.

Existing routes

Geologists now believe the huge infrastructure of North Sea pipes and rigs could be a key factor in developing storage facilities for this carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases for the UK and countries that rim the North Sea.

Emissions such as carbon dioxide could be captured and pumped into the empty gas fields for permanent storage or for when they might be needed.

Nick Riley, head of research for emission storage at the British Geological Survey, and said: "East Anglia is key to this development because it is the nearest region to the gas fields.

"Offshore there is an infrastructure of gas interconnectors, pipes and rigs. It makes sense to use these existing routes and lay new pipes to feed into the system.

"We could be storing up to a third of our carbon dioxide emissions in this way by the end of this century."

Government scientists are looking into the idea but Greenpeace warns it would have no impact in cutting carbon dioxide emissions from homes, businesses and transport.

A spokesman for Greenpeace said North Sea storage was not a silver bullet and reducing the use of hydrocarbons was still an important way to cut greenhouse gas emissions.


SEE ALSO:
How coal is cleaning up its act
27 Nov 05 |  Science/Nature
Cars risk Europe's climate cuts
02 Dec 03 |  Science/Nature


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