Video: First CO2 Carriers Launched in China for Northern Lights Project

LCO2 carrier
Northern Lights' first two LCO2 carriers were floated from the building dock (DSIC)

Published Apr 3, 2024 8:42 PM by The Maritime Executive


The first commercial CO2 carriers were floated out by their Chinese shipbuilders marking the next key step in the effort to Norway’s Northern Lights project which looks to begin commercial storage of CO2 under the North Sea. Started in 2021, it is a joint venture between Equinor, Shell, and TotalEnergies, that will transport, operate a receiving terminal, and pump the CO2 more than 60 miles offshore to its permanent storage site.

The vessels named Northern Pathfinder and Northern Pioneer were floated out from the building dock at China’s Dalian Shipbuilding Industry Co. They will be completing outfitting and testing before their delivery later this year to start the commercial operation. The vessels are registered in Norway, classed by DNV, and operated under charter to Japan’s “K Line” (Kawasaki Kisen Kaisha).

Northern Lights is building two dedicated CO2 carriers, each with a cargo size of 7,500 m3 and a length of 130m. The ships will be built by Dalian Shipbuilding Industry Co., Ltd. (DSIC) and will be ready for delivery by mid-2024.



The vessels are designed to transport liquid CO2 with two purpose-built pressurized cargo tanks. The specifically designed cylindrical tanks will have a total capacity of 7,500 cbm. The CO2 will be captured from industrial emitters in Europe and transported aboard the vessels at a maximum 19 bar(g) pressure and minimum -35°C temperature. Once the vessel reaches Norway, the LCO2 will be transferred to the processing center before being pumped to the geological reservoir more than 8,500 feet (2,600 meters) under the seabed.

Northern Lights has reported that the ships were also designed to with a minimal environmental impact during operation. They are fueled with LNG and fitted both with a wind rotor and air lubrication for the hull. 

The first two ships, which have now been floated, were ordered in October 2021 with the first steel cut coming in November 2022. The keels were laid in April 2023 with the two ships were built side-by-side in the same dock. Each ship measures approximately 426 feet in length (130 meters) and 8,000 dwt.



A third ship is also under construction after being ordered in September 2023. Based on demand, the company also entered into an agreement with Germany’s Bernard Schulte in December 2023 to build a fourth LCO2 carrier.The next two vessels as scheduled for delivery in 2025 and 2026.

Northern Lights and Yara International signed a binding commercial transport and storage agreement in November 2023 with the ambition to capture and store 800,000 tonnes of CO2 from the ammonia production in Sluiskil in the Netherlands starting in 2025. It was reported as the world’s first commercial contract for the capture and storage of CO2.