Norway abandons Mongstad carbon capture plans

Roger Harrabin visited the experimental Mongstat carbon capture technology centre last month

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The outgoing government in Norway has buried much-vaunted plans to capture carbon dioxide and store it underground amid mounting costs and delays.

The oil and energy ministry said the development of full-scale carbon dioxide capture at Mongstad oil refinery had been discontinued.

It said it remained committed to research into carbon capture.

When the Labour Party presented the plan in 2007, it was hailed as Norway's equivalent of a "Moon landing".

Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg and his allies lost a general election to conservatives and centrists this month, and are due to step down shortly.

Mongstad had already run into difficulties.

"At both the national and international level, the development of technologies to capture and store CO2 has taken longer, been more difficult and more costly than expected," Oil and Energy Minister Ola Borten Moe told reporters.

The process was patented back in the 1930s, and it is reckoned to be one of the most important technologies available for tackling greenhouse gas emissions.

In another development on Friday, French President Francois Hollande said he wanted to see France reduce fossil fuel use by 30% by 2030.

He also outlined plans for a carbon tax from 2014 and a tax break on home insulation to help consumers save energy.

Fossil fuels, he told a conference on the environment in Paris, still accounted for more than 70% of France's overall energy use.

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