CO2 transport and storage project “The Northern Lights”

EIn collaboration with Equinor and Shell, Total is developing a project in Norway to transport and store CO2 in underground geological formations located off the Norwegian coast.

Main project's drivers for reducing the greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions

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Energy and resource efficiency

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Energy Decarbonisation

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Energy efficiency improvements

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Improving efficiency in non-energy resources

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Emission removal

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Financing low-carbon issuers or disinvestment from carbon assets

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Reduction of other greenhouse gases emission

Project objectives

The aim of the project is to transport and permanently store the CO2 emitted by two industrial sites in Norway, and by any other European emitter who subscribes to the transport and storage service offered by the project.

In 2017, Equinor, Norske Shell and Total E&P Norge signed a collaboration agreement, as equal partners, to review the shipping and storage project supported by Gassnova, the CCS arm of the Norwegian government.

The Northern Lights Project

On May 15, 2020, Total, in collaboration with Equinor and Shell, made a landmark investment decision to develop Northern Lights, Norway’s first commercial offshore CO2 shipping and storage project. This decision was made possible because of the strong support (subsidies) for the project from the Norwegian government.

This project is part of the Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS) industrial chain supported by the Norwegian government (the “Longship” project). It involves the capture of CO2 from two industrial sources: the first being the Norcem site in Brevik of cement manufacturer, Heidelberg Group (Norcem), and the second being the Fortum Oslo Varme waste processing plant in Oslo.

In phase one, the Northern Lights project aims to pioneer and accelerate the decarbonization of European industry, by providing available storage capacity of up to 0.7 MtCO2eq/year for emitters, in addition to the capacity already reserved by the Norwegian government (0.8 MtCO2eq/year for Norcem and Fortum).

The funding from the Norwegian government was approved by the European authorities on July 17, 2020 and ratified by the Norwegian Parliament on December 14, 2020. The establishment of the joint venture that will operate and own the Northern Lights project was approved by various national competition authorities in mid-January 2021.

The project is expected to be operational by 2024.

Emission scope(s)

on which the project has a significant impact

Scope 1

Direct emissions generated by the company's activity.

Scope 2

Indirect emissions associated with the company's electricity and heat consumption.

Scope 3

Emissions induced (upstream or downstream) by the company's activities, products and/or services in its value chain.

Emission Removal

Carbon sinks creation, (BECCS, CCU/S, …)

Avoided Emissions

Emissions avoided by the activities, products and/or services in charge of the project, or by the financing of emission reduction projects.

Scope 1 -Potential entitlement to storage capacity for partners’ scope 1 emissions

  • Quantification : 0.7MtCO2eq/year maximum.

Scope 3 - Reduction of CO2 emissions from fossil fuel combustion i.e. Natural Gas: 

  • Quantification: Up to 1.5 MtCO2eq/year

Emission Removal - Permanent storage of CO2 in deep underground reservoirs located offshore

  • Quantification : 1.5 MtCO2eq/year 27% of which is CO2 of biogenic origin (Fortum 

Avoided Emissions - Permanent storage service for large industrial companies that capture their CO2 

  • Quantification : 1.5 MtCO2eq/year

Carbon impact of the project :

In phase one, the project will develop the capacity to store up to 1.5 MtCO2eq/year.

  • 8 MtCO2eq/year will be reserved by the Norwegian authorities
  • 7 MtCO2eq/year can be sold to third-party customers

In phase two, the project has the potential to reach 5 MtCO2e/year of storage capacity. However, implementing the project will also generate CO2 emissions:

-        the transport and temporary storage of CO2 (before it is permanently stored in offshore reservoirs): 0.03 tCO2/tCO2 stored, total direct emissions (on-site construction for onshore + offshore + rig + emissions throughout the field operation period) + indirect emissions (CO2 content of construction materials for ships, onshore, offshore)

i.e. storage of 1.5 MtCO2eq/year will generate emissions of 50 kt tCO2/year.

Impact on the two capture sites

The two capture sites (Fortum and Norcem) will each reduce their direct emissions by 0.4 MtCO2eq/year.

Key points

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Invested amount

800 M€

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Starting date of the project

May 2020

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Project localisation


Project maturity level

Prototype laboratory test (TRL 7)

Real life testing (TRL 7-8)

Pre-commercial prototype (TRL 9)

Small-scale implementation

Medium to large scale implementation

Economic profitability of the project (ROI)

Short term (0-3 years)

Middle term (4-10 years)

Long term (> 10 years)

Economic viability not disclosed

Illustrations of the project

Total is committed to working towards the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), to ensure a brighter and more sustainable future for all. For this reason, the Group is constructing a sustainable development approach based on four pillars: integrating climate change into its business strategy, preserving the environment, respecting and mobilizing employees and suppliers, and contributing to the economic development of the regions where it operates.

To this end, the Northern Lights project, because of its co-benefits, will help to achieve 3 of the SDGs and to meet specific targets:

  • SDG 7: Ensure access to affordable, reliable, sustainable and modern energy
    • The project ensures the generation of reliable, sustainable and modern energy by transporting and storing the emissions from power plants.
  • SDG 9: Build resilient infrastructure, promote inclusive and sustainable industrialization and foster innovation
    • The project’s CO2 transport and storage service provides a solution to the CO2 captured by industrial companies and will therefore enable the development of a sustainable, low-carbon industry in Europe.
  • SDG 13: Take urgent action to combat climate change and its impacts
    • The aim of the project is to develop geological storage capacity, which is essential for fighting climate change.

The Northern Lights solution can be replicated for all emitters (waste-to-energy, hydrogen, cement and steel producers and other CO2 emitters) as well as for all communities who would like to be involved in the decarbonization effort.

To date, 15 projects are being examined in Europe. No such project is currently under consideration in France.

Climate-related issues

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has described CCS technology as essential in order to achieve a worldwide “net-zero” carbon balance by the second half of the 21st century.

Today, approximately 40 MT/year of CO2 is stored geologically. In its 2020 “Sustainable Development” scenario, the International Energy Agency (IEA) estimates that these volumes must be increased to 850 MT/year by 2030 and 5.6 GT/year by 2050 in order to meet the Paris Agreement objective.

In France, the National Low-Carbon Strategy (SNBC) has set a target of achieving net-zero emissions by 2050. Its reference scenario, “With Additional Measures” (Avec Mesures Supplémentaires – AMS), forecasts 15 MT/year of CCS (5 MT/year in industry and 10 MT/CO2 in bioenergy). ADEME has selected 3 industrial centers of interest for CCS deployment (Dunquerke, Le Havre-Rouen, and Lacq), with a combined potential capacity of 24 MT/year.

Conditions for the project’s success:

In the project’s later stages of development, it will be possible to increase capacity at the site in accordance with market demand from major CO2 emitters across Europe.

The main conditions for the success of the project and of the CCS industry as a whole, are as follows:

  • The net-zero emission aims of governments, companies and communities
  • The conversion of these aims into quantified targets and action plans

In addition, value must be created for CO2 through:

  • Recognition of the added value of low-carbon products (cement, steel, chemicals, etc.)
  • Decarbonization incentives based on regulation as well as carbon taxation

Committed partnerships

Total is working in partnership with Equinor and Shell on this project.

The Norwegian government is supporting the project through subsidies in return for reserving 0.8 MtCO2eq/year of storage capacity over the first 10 years of operation.

Business development

A non-binding Memorandum of Understanding has already been signed with nine European companies for the development of CO2 capture and storage value chains. The signatory companies include: Air Liquide, Arcelor Mittal, Ervia, Fortum, Preem, HeidelbergCement, and Stockholm Exergi.

The establishment of binding commercial agreements will depend on, among other things, a favorable decision by the Norwegian authorities, the decision to develop CO2 capture facilities by third-party customers and the conclusion of bilateral agreements between Norway and third-party countries, where these customers are based, for CO2 transport and storage. This cross-sectoral collaboration provides a unique solution to managing large volumes of CO2 and preventing their release into the atmosphere. These new value chains and the infrastructure for CCS projects can only be developed through cooperation between governments and the private sector.

Total’s other projects :