The Norwegian government created an incentive 20 years ago. "To combat global warming, Norway imposed a carbon tax of $50 per metric ton for offshore carbon dioxide emissions in 1991," Benson said. "Companies were faced with a choice either pay the tax or stop emitting carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. They soon realized it would cost them a lot less to inject it under the seabed."
The biggest expense Sleipner and other companies face is separating and capturing the carbon dioxide emissions. "Separating is quite costly, $50 to $100 per metric ton," Benson said. "That's the big cost. The underground storage is less than 20 percent of the total cost."
The natural gas produced at the Sleipner site contains about 10 percent carbon dioxide, which has to be separated and removed before the company can sell the natural gas. The additional cost of storing it in the seabed is relatively nominal, Benson said. Perhaps one day the United States and other major fossil fuel consumers will follow Norway's lead, she added.
"Fundamentally, carbon capture and storage is not such a challenging thing to do," she said. "If we were really serious about dealing with climate change, we would be deploying this technology today."
|Contact: Mark Shwartz|