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Last Updated: Tuesday, 14 June, 2005, 16:10 GMT 17:10 UK
SNP promotes CO2 capture proposal
St Fergus terminal
St Fergus terminal could be used to pipe CO2 into the North Sea
Scotland can drive forward plans to capture greenhouse gases and store them under the North Sea, Scottish National Party leader Alex Salmond has said.

Carbon "sequestration" involves power stations holding emissions such as carbon dioxide (CO2).

The gas can then be piped underground for storage in oilfields where it can also help to recover more oil.

Mr Salmond said the north east of Scotland could lead the way in carbon capture technology.

The St Fergus gas terminal near Peterhead, which is in Mr Salmond's Banff and Buchan constituency, was an ideal location as the infrastructure existed there for pumping CO2 back offshore, he said.

Norwegian experiments

Experts say carbon capture and storage is best applied to large stationary sources, such as power stations and industrial plants, where CO2 can be separated from the flue gases.

The SNP said Peterhead power station, operated by Scottish and Southern Energy (SSE), could be used to capture the CO2.

The carbon dioxide could be separated, liquified and pumped out to BP's Miller oil field via a gas pipeline.

Carbon sequestration in the Sleipner West Field (Statoil/ōyvind Hagen)
Norway's Statoil company has buried CO2 since 1996

The oil firm could benefit because the carbon dioxide pumped into the depleted field would help flush out the last reserves of oil.

The North Sea is thought to be ideal to store captured emissions as they would simply reoccupy the spaces in deep geological formations that had previously trapped oil and gas reserves for millions of years.

Experiments are already under way in the region. Norway's Statoil company, for instance, has buried carbon dioxide under the North Sea since 1996.

'Life-saving' technology

The UK Government has announced £25m of funding to develop carbon sequestration.

Mr Salmond said: "Carbon capture is a potentially life-saving, and planet-saving, technology.

"This new cash is welcome, but it is clearly not enough to meet the climate challenge we now face.

"At a time when ministers are considering spending billions on dirty nuclear power stations, a few million on clean carbon technologies shows warped priorities and a clear lack of ambition."

He added: "I would like to see the government's support and development efforts based in the north east so that Scotland's energy centre can also become the world capital for carbon capture technologies."

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