Italian energy companies Enel and Eni are joining forces to develop technologies for the capture, transport and geological sequestration of carbon dioxide, including construction of a pilot project in Italy.

The two companies have signed a strategic agreement for this CCS initiative, following up on a memorandum of understanding signed earlier in the year. They will also undertake a detailed feasibility study for the construction of a large-scale demonstration project at a hypothetical clean coal power plant.

Both Enel and Eni had separately been developing expertise in various parts of the CCS value chain, but say that a joint effort will give Italy the chance to lead the development of innovative technologies that could be exported around the world.

The agreement will bring together two separate projects into a single integrated pilot project involving the capture of CO2 from flue gas, underground injection and monitoring the stability and safety of the deposit. The project involves the creation of a system for the capture and liquefaction of CO2 at Enel’s Brindisi site and for its transport to the exhausted Stogit field at Cortemaggiore.

Enel is currently completing Italy’s first industrial CO2 capture plant at the Brindisi thermal power station, while Eni has started a project aimed at injecting around 8000 t of CO2 per year into the Stogit field.

Enel’s pilot capture plant will be ready in late 2009 while underground injection is scheduled to start in late 2010. In order to gain experience in the pipeline transport of CO2, Enel and Eni have also decided to lay a pilot dense-phase CO2 transport line at the Brindisi site.

Paolo Scaroni, Eni CEO, remarked: “Our commitment is to implement a technology that will revolution the world of energy: capture, transport and sequestration of CO2 from coal-fired power generation. As a result, we will be able to use freely coal for power production whilst offering a significant contribution on three fields: the environment, through the segregation of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere; the safety of energy supply, through the utilization of a resource which is widespread in our planet; and, last but not least, the final consumer, who will benefit from low-cost electricity.”

The integrated project will allow the companies to develop skills across the whole CO2 capture, transport and sequestration process chain that can subsequently be applied to large-scale demo projects.

As well as carrying out a feasibility study into the development of a large-scale CCS project, Enel and Eni will prepare a study of Italy’s CO2 storage potential.