Anglo-Dutch oil major Shell and Norwegian state-owned operator Statoil have unveiled ambitions plans for a large-scale carbon capture project in the North Sea.

The plans envisage the construction of a 860MW gas fired power station on the coast of Norway, required anyway to bolster power output in the region. Norway is running out of suitable rivers upon which to build hydroelectric stations, currently a major source of power.

Statoil and Shell believe that the carbon gases produced by the new power station can then be piped under the seabed of the North Sea out to the Draugen oilfield, operated by Shell, where they will be used to help pump oil closer to the surface. The two firms hope that, if the initial project is a success, other existing oilfields could be given a new lease of life as extracting oil becomes more economically viable.

The carbon capture initiative should also help to reduce the amount of harmful greenhouse gases being released into the atmosphere. Shell and Statoil hope to have the system operational by 2012.