European oil and gas pipelines can transport CO2 and hydrogen cost efficiently


A study has uncovered “significant potential” for the re-use of oil and gas infrastructure in Europe for transporting hydrogen and carbon dioxide.

The cross-industry Re-Stream project sought to identify and assess relevant oil and gas infrastructure, before defining which technical adaptations and investments would be required to unlock its potential for re-use for both CO2 and hydrogen. It found that re-using existing infrastructure can result in more cost efficient deployment of carbon capture and storage (CCS) and hydrogen, reducing the costs of the energy transition in the process.

The study, commissioned by Concawe, Gas Infrastructure Europe, the European Network of Transmission System Operators for Gas, and the International Association of Oil and Gas Producers, saw 67 pipeline operators participate, providing data to be analysed for around 58,000km of pipelines, as well as 24,200km assessed by the operators themselves as suitable for hydrogen re-use, representing a significant proportion of the oil and gas pipeline network in Europe.

Key findings included that existing pipelines can be re-used to transport CO2 for geological storage; over half of the existing offshore pipelines assessed would be suitable for transporting CO2 in the dense phase; and more than 70% of the existing offshore pipeline length is relevant for CO2 transport, with many long pipelines linking harbours to CO2 storage locations. For onshore pipelines, it found a minimum of 20% of the pipeline length shows “some business opportunities” for linking sources to sinks.

When it comes to hydrogen, once more a majority of offshore pipelines assessed were found capable of transporting it, with close to 70% of the onshore pipeline total length having the potential to be re-used as well, considering the current state of knowledge and standards. The remaining length of the pipelines was also deemed promising for re-use, though would call for either more testing, or an update to standards, to be reusable. It did note none of the pipelines analysed should be categorically excluded from re-use.

Based on these findings, it highlighted how re-use of existing pipelines can deliver cost reductions in comparison to having to build new ones. For both CO2 and hydrogen transport, cost reductions of 53% to 82% can be achieved. In offshore cases, this would see a reduction of 2MEUR/km, with the figure 1MEUR/km for onshore ones, with these cost reductions especially important during the initial phases of development for CCS and hydrogen infrastructure.