On February 4 the Parliament’s ‘Control and Constitution Committee’ completed the third and final day of the hearing on the investment in CO2 capture and storage (CCS) at Mongstad. Adding a third day to the original two that were scheduled renders this hearing the longest in Norwegian history.
“The hindsight of former Environment Minister Solheim is no better than the decisions he took as a politician,” said Bellona President Frederic Hauge during the hearing.
When Aker Solutions’ president and former director stated that the technology they had developed at Mongstad was sustainable, robust and safe, the former environment ministers Solheim, Bjørnøy and Solhjell looked like the oil industry’s strongest supporters as they were of the opinion that the technology was too expensive and complicated.
Liv Monica Stubholt, former director of Aker Solutions, stated that “the technological development was not the problem. But we ran out of political will.”
Aker Solutions Director, Valborg Lundegaard , emphasized in his presentation that the then government overreacted on the alleged cancer risk of the amine technology. This cancer risk led the government to in 2011 defer the final investment decision by five years. Lundegaard said that for her it was “difficult to understand that it was necessary to have such a long delay.” She also stated that Aker Solutions is able to deliver a full scale plant. Stubholt focused on the non–dialogue of the government with industry and research institutions throughout the process , but particularly in terms of the cooperation agreement with Statoil and the postponement decision.
The former environment ministers were inclined to admit that the cooperation agreement with Statoil was not ideal, but pointed mainly to uncertainty and complexity of the technology as the background for shelving Mongstad.
Solhjell would did not wish to discuss the timing of the shelving decision. He was also of the opinion that it is not necessary that Norway develops CCS technology for gas. The Norwegian government has previously emphasized the importance it will have that Norway develops precisely this technology, and it has also been expected of the EU (read more, in Norwegian, here).
Solhjell also claimed that the chance of success would be greater is the attention was shifted elsewhere. The Norwegian liberal party, a partner of the conservative coalition government, has recently stated that they see Norwegian investment in overseas CCS projects as the possible best way forward.