A consortium of Royal Dutch Shell, ExxonMobil, Air Liquide and Air Products are to be awarded around €2 billion (US$2.4 billion) in subsidies by the government of the Netherlands for a carbon capture and storage project that is to become one of the largest in the world. The news is the latest – and perhaps the most important – in the development of the Porthos project, which was initiated by Port of Rotterdam Authority, Gasunie and state-owned Dutch gas company EBN to reduce carbon emissions by 10% in the Rotterdam area, which itself accounts for around 15% of Dutch CO2 emissions.
The four ‘customer’ companies (Shell, ExxonMobil, Air Liquide and Air Products) will be compensated for the extra costs involved in capturing greenhouse gases rather than releasing them, and the €2 billion figure is thus an estimate of how many tonnes of CO2 will be stored and what the costs will be. One danger in the subsidy is that, depending on how it is designed, it may not leave an incentive for the customer companies to make their capture processes more efficient, if all the cost is covered. When up and running by 2024, the Porthos project is expected to store as much as 2.5 million tonnes of carbon dioxide per year; the project is already fully subscribed, and the developers are considering a ‘sequel’ to the current project to serve further customers.