London-quoted gas extractor Independent Oil and Gas (IOG) today announced a deal with Heriot-Watt University’s advanced studies unit, exploring ways to store carbon in exhausted oil fields under the southern North Sea.
Specialists from GeoNetZero, the Edinburgh-located university’s geoscience research arm, will work with IOG in its licenced offshore extraction sites, including those linked to Bacton, the east coast’s biggest gas terminal.
IOG seeks to set itself apart from competitors, stressing its commitment to what it calls ‘environmentally low impact development’ of domestic gas supply. That niche approach, it believes, offers high returns and growth in developing an ‘infrastructure-led’ approach to hub development.
Addressing investors today, CEO Andrew Hockey expounded IOG’s approach with its new partners. Blue hydrogen – derived from steam-reformed methane – is at its heart.
The deal with GeoNetZero involves Herriot-Watt’s geologists probing data on the integrity of storage fields below the seabed.
Drawing on the gas industry’s extensive archive of seismic, well and core data, Hockey explained, the key focus will be on proving which fields and aquifers across the Bacton catchment area are most suitable as carbon sinks, particularly where existing infrastructure could provide operational synergies.
Sustainably extending the economic life of the southern North Sea is likely to involve long-term integration of established gas players with wind power, hydrogen production and CCS solutions, he argued.
“In particular, a successful blue hydrogen-CCS cluster in the Bacton area will require consistent gas supply – IOG’s core business – as well as steam reformation facilities and secure offshore carbon storage sites, all in reasonable proximity”, said Hockey.
No duration for the research deal was disclosed.
Professor John Underhill, Head of GeoNetZero CDT, commented: “I am delighted that IOG has elected to support research that will identify, examine and test carbon storage sites and other low-carbon renewable options in the Southern North Sea.
“This support shows that industry recognises the relevance and impact of our research at the GeoNetZero CDT and Heriot-Watt University to decarbonise the North Sea, deliver the UK’s transition to Net Zero and maintain sustainable energy supplies.”
By 4pm IOG’s share price was unchanged, at 22.5 pence.