Securing a multimodal CO2 Transport Network: Ports as key enablers

Bellona Europa

Publish date: March 22, 2024


The EU will have to scale up capture, transport and storage of CO2 from zero to hundreds of millions of tonnes in the coming two decades to meet its climate targets. This ambitious task will not be possible without a robust, cross-border transport infrastructure, connecting CO2 emissions sources and CO2 storage sites. It has become evident that ports will play a significant role in the emerging CO2 transport network, not least as logistical hubs, but also as project facilitators and CO2 volume aggregators.  

To discuss the pivotal role of ports in unleashing the potential of Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS), Bellona Europa and Danish Shipping organised a roundtable discussion in the European Parliament on the 6th of March 2024, hosted by MEP Bergur Larsson Løkke Rasmussen, featuring representatives of the European Commission, port authorities (European Seaports Organization ESPO, Port of Antwerp-Bruges), cement industry (Cembureau and Schwenk Latvija), shipping (Capital Product Partners), and storage operators (INEOS). The debate covered the regulatory framework, as well as the challenges, needs and opportunities for CCS stakeholders arising in the context of CCS deployment. 

Regulatory Framework for CO2 transport and storage is taking shape

Kicking off the debate, MEP Bergur Løkke Rasmussen commended the European Commission on its recent legislative proposals, including the Net Zero Industry Act (NZIA) and the Industrial Carbon Management Strategy (ICMS), which lay the foundation for an internal CO2 market in the EU. He also highlighted the emphasis on the vital role of ports in the energy transition, particularly as Carbon Capture and Storage hubs, as expressed in the resolution by the European Parliament calling for a European Port Strategy

Johanna Fiksdahl (European Commission, DG ENER) provided further context regarding the role of CO2 transport infrastructure as outlined in the ICMS. The European Commission sees CO2 transport infrastructure as the key enabler, binding value chains together. The overarching aim is to create a single market for CO2 in Europe, allowing for its free flow across borders, transport modes, and different pathways, including CCS, CCU (Carbon Capture and Use), and industrial carbon removals. To achieve this, the European Commission emphasises the need for coordination and harmonisation at the EU level, intending to commence preparations for a possible regulatory package for transport and storage, and to initiate work on CO2 network planning and integration.  

Industry climate action is picking up

The first industrial CCS projects are transitioning from theoretical concepts to real action, albeit far from the scale required to address the climate emergency. INEOS, a petrochemical company and CO2 storage operator, successfully transported a small quantity of captured CO2 from its Antwerp oxide production site to an offshore storage site in the Danish North Sea, as reported by Peter Hindsberger from INEOS. 

Rob van der Meer from Cembureau explained that European cement producers will likely deliver one third of the CO2 volumes to be stored in 2030, as carbon capture represents the only way to reduce their CO2 process emissions. He explained that only limited volumes CO2 captured from cement production might be used as feedstock in the manufacturing of various products, and the majority of their captured CO2 will have to be stored. 

Ports will play a pivotal role

Authors of a recent JRC study projected that future European CO2 network could span 6700-7300 km by 2030, and up to19000 km by 2050, with estimated costs ranging from 6.5-19.5 billion EUR by 2030 to 9.3-23 billion euro in 2050. While pipelines will be a common option for CO2 transport, their high capital costs and long lead times, compounded by permitting issues led the Commission to recognise the importance of CO2 shipping.  

Rob van der Meer (Cembureau) and Peter Hindsberger (INEOS) highlighted that parts of the EU, particularly in Southern and Eastern Europe, may not be connected to future European CO2  pipeline infrastructure for a significant period, underscoring the need to prevent exclusion by utilising multiple transport modalities. Multiple transport modalities can help mitigate this risk. 

All speakers agreed on the critical role of ports in emerging CCS value chains. MEP Rasmussen emphasised their role in connecting emitters, transport modes, and intermediate storage. Some ports are already integrating carbon management into their operations in anticipation of CCS becoming a solution to cut industrial emissions and a business opportunity, with 14 CO2 projects awarded status as Projects of Common Interest and Projects of Mutual Interest last year, many of which involve port infrastructure. The Port of Antwerp-Bruges (PoAB), Europe’s largest integrated chemical cluster, is planning to incorporate new infrastructure and operations to handle CO2, including connections to CCS projects in other countries. Anaëlle  Boudry (ESPO) noted that ports, traditionally focused on public interests, are taking on additional roles such as serving as energy hubs and facilitating commercial activities, making them crucial facilitators, match-makers, and volume aggregation platforms in the energy transition and CCS. 


However, there are a number of challenges which need to be addressed in order to empower ports and other CCS stakeholders. The panellists and audience highlighted the need for more public funding and private investment, the limited availability of space in ports, ports depth issues, interoperability of ports with multiple modes of CO2 transport, and the requirement to secure public support as ports need their license to operate. Moreover, new roles for ports also require new skills and labour, while CCS projects will also need much more renewable electricity to power their operations. CO2 as a commodity might in some use cases also be subject to import taxation. On the shipping side, Spyros Leoussis anticipates a significant bottleneck in the delivery of CO2 carriers by 2030, estimating that production capacity constraints will hinder shipyards’ output. 

Evita Gosa from the cement producer Schwenk shared the challenges her company is facing trying to deploy CCS in Latvia and Lithuania, a part of Europe which is lagging behind in terms of governmental support and legal frameworks for CCS. Although their project has been awarded the status of PCI (Project of Common Interest), which will allow the consortium to apply for Connecting Europe Facility funding, Evita stressed that CCS and CCU value chains will ultimately need a viable business case.  

The discussion also addressed standardisation and harmonisation of CO2 transport and storage, particularly regarding impurities and transport conditions. Johanna Fiksdahl emphasised the importance of ensuring flexibility in standards to accommodate varying starting points among countries and avoiding overregulation of a developing market, while still establishing minimum standards for CO2 streams. This balance between safety risks, flexibility, and costs in CCS and CCU value chains is crucial. Efforts in this area have begun in European (CEN) and international (ISO) bodies. 

The recording of the event is available below, on our YouTube channel.  

Subscribe to our newsletter

Get our latest news

Stay informed