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Liverpool Bay: biodiversity and CO₂ storage in the United Kingdom

In 1995 we launched various initiatives to protect the local area and now we are reusing and repurposing our infrastructure to develop an offshore CO₂ storage site.

Eni Liverpool Bay Project: a clean growth opportunity for the UK

In October 2020 the Oil and Gas Authority (OGA) awarded us a six-year appraisal licence which targets Eni’s offshore fields in Liverpool Bay to be utilised as a permanent store for CO2.  The development is part of HyNet North West, a low carbon cluster project to help UK decarbonisation. Eni will be the owner and operator of the transportation and storage of CO₂ for the wider HyNet North West project.  The appraisal licence is for an area in Liverpool Bay, where we plan to reuse the exhausted hydrocarbon fields – specifically the Hamilton, North Hamilton and Lennox fields – and convert the related infrastructure for permanently storing captured CO₂ in the North-West of England and North Wales. In March 2021 the project received a funding commitment of £33 million from UK Research and Innovation (UKRI), through its Industrial Decarbonisation Challenge (IDC) fund. The funding covers around 50% of the investment necessary to finalise ongoing planning studies, with the aim of the site becoming operational by 2025.

Once operational, the project will transform one of the most energy-intensive industrial districts in the UK into the world’s first low carbon industrial cluster and will help:

  • reduce CO₂ emissions by 4 Mton/year, with the possibility of expanding the capture capacity up to 10 Mton/year by 2030
  • deliver 80% of the Government’s new UK-wide target of 5GW of low carbon hydrogen

Thanks to this licence, with the business plan sent to the UK authorities on 9 July 2021, we will be able to help decarbonize the North-West of England and North Wales, but also work actively with industrial companies to capture and transport CO₂ from existing plants and future hydrogen production sites. Hydrogen will be used as a transition fuel for heating, electricity and transport, as part of the UK’s zero-emissions target for 2050. The project will have positive effects for local communities, creating new job opportunities and supporting the region’s economic development. Furthermore, we will be helping chart a practical path to an energy transition, and decarbonizing the economy.

In May 2021 Eni and Progressive Energy Limited have announced the signing of a framework agreement to further accelerate carbon capture and storage (CCS) within the HyNet North West low carbon cluster project. Under the agreement, Eni will develop and operate both the onshore and offshore transportation and storage of CO₂  in their Liverpool Bay assets, whilst Progressive Energy will lead and coordinate the capture and hydrogen aspects of the project on behalf of Hynet North West, thereby linking together the sources of CO₂ emissions to Eni’s transportation and storage infrastructure.

Moreover, in June 2021 Eni UK and Uniper signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) to jointly evaluate decarbonisation initiatives in North Wales. The collaboration, in line with the UK government's ten point plan for green industrial revolution, will investigate the technical and commercial feasibility to work together on future low carbon project initiatives in the region.

In July 2021 Eni UK, as the group lead for the consortium that will develop the HyNet North West integrated project, has submitted the documentation necessary to participate in the Cluster Sequencing for Carbon Capture Usage and Storage Deployment: Phase 1 tender process held by the UK Government. In the event of its successful bid, Eni UK and its partners will gain access to the Carbon Capture Storage Infrastructure Fund (CCFI), with non-repayable financial support of £1bn for the realisation of four projects for the capture and storage of around 10 million tons of CO2 by 2030. The process involves two project streams with different starting time, one by 2025 (Track 1 projects), and one by 2027 (Track 2 projects). The fund is part of a broader investment plan of £12 billion for the Ten Point Plan presented in November 2020 by the British Government to drive the United Kingdom’s energy transition plan and promote the Green Industrial Revolution. In addition to CCS, the plan aims to promote other technologies such as offshore wind, blue and green hydrogen, nuclear power, electric mobility and energy efficiency of private homes.

We have also signed a cooperation agreement in the UK with other partners to join the CCS North Endurance Partnership project (Eni 10%), which will allow for the decarbonization of the Teesside and Humberside industrial districts in the North East of the country. Start-up of activities here is expected in 2027, with an initial storage capacity of 5 Mton/year of CO₂.

In October 2021 Eni UK, on behalf of the HyNet Consortium Cluster, is delighted to announce that its submission to the Cluster Sequencing process has been accepted as a Track 1 project. This acceptance will allow Eni UK and the supporting entities of Hynet to proceed as one of the first UK industrial clusters to apply carbon capture and storage (CCS), to materially reduce carbon emissions in the UK.

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Our biodiversity management plan in the bay

We have been operating in the United Kingdom since 1964, with holdings in five production sites. These include Liverpool Bay, where we have established an operating model that respects the local environment and creates value for everyone. Our Land Management Programme, which commenced in 1995, has had a significant impact. It has included stabilising the sand dunes, the reintroduction and maintenance of a population of natterjack toads and using Welsh mountain ponies to manage the habitat and control the height of the grass cover in a sustainable way. We have also run a three-year programme to reintroduce the sand lizard and have created environmentally friendly areas that balance the needs of conservation with visitors’ enjoyment of the local beaches. Our Point of Ayr Land Management Programme looks after 182 hectares of dunes, farmland and salt marshes around Point of Ayr, Flintshire, while respecting the local natural environment. Started in 1995, it formed part of the original plan for the construction of the Point of Ayr Gas Terminal in North Wales and is regarded as having made a positive contribution to preserving the local environment and landscape. Since 2014, we have been 100 per cent responsible for Liverpool Bay operations and have further improved the habitat, helping to conserve the area while striking a balance with tourism – both important considerations for the coastal town of Talacre. 

Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)

The UN’s 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development is an action programme with 17 goals aimed at the social and economic development of communities and regions. As part of the Liverpool Bay project, we helped to make human settlements inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable SDG 11, and worked to protect, restore and promote sustainable use of terrestrial ecosystems (SDG 15). The carbon dioxide storage project also gives us a chance to help combat climate change (SDG 13).

Safety first

Workplace safety is a fundamental principle that we share with employees, contract workers and local communities. For that reason, we implement all necessary measures to avoid accidents, including organisational models to assess and manage risk, training programmes, skills development and the promotion of a culture of safety. In 2005, we set up DangerPoint, an interactive educational visitors’ centre focused on safety and preventing accidents aimed at schools and other organised groups. It features realistic urban scenarios with streets, pedestrian crossings, cars, railways, houses and shops, and is designed to give children and adults practical, interactive training, with courses tailored to different age groups.

Biodiversity before all else: gallery

The project has been going on for 13 years, and has seen us help protect the natural environment in Liverpool Bay. In collaboration with various local associations, we have carved out cycle paths and nature trails and launched a range of programmes for reintegrating amphibians, birds and mammals into the area.

Impact on the environment and local communities

In 2008, the Talacre Masterplan – a sustainable regeneration project – helped reduce traffic congestion in and around the town, much to the satisfaction of local residents. This small Welsh town attracts large numbers of visitors in the summer because it has the only beach in the county. It is also the first beach that visitors come across when entering Wales via the North Wales coastal route. In 2014, we developed a car park that has helped improve the habitat, reduce traffic congestion and increase revenues for local businesses. Meanwhile, our Environmental Educational Programme creates educational materials for local schools every year, allowing us to work with the community to help safeguard the local habitat and train students to understand the future needs of the area. Eni’s Field Study Centre was established specifically for this and delivers environmental education courses to young people for four weeks a year. Finally, Big Dee Day was originally designed to clean up the River Dee estuary, removing rubbish accumulated over many years of industrial use. Now the project has evolved to include the history of the river so students and volunteers can teach others about its important role and ensure that it remains a popular tourist destination while remaining sensitive to its environmental features.. 

The HyNet North West Integrated Project will have positive effects for local communities, creating new job opportunities and supporting the region’s economic development. Furthermore, we will be helping chart a practical path to an energy transition, and decarbonizing the economy.

The value of experience

The environmental principles behind the Liverpool Bay project are applicable to projects planned for other environmentally sensitive coastal areas, in particular those featuring large-scale industrial development. 

Partnership

In carrying out this project, we have worked with many partners including Natural Resources Wales (NRW) and Flintshire County Council. We have also developed beneficial relationships with such organisations as the North Wales Wildlife Trust, the Amphibian and Reptile Conservation Trust and Keep Wales Tidy.