Sixty-five miles off the coastal Norwegian city of Bergen, a drilling rig is punching through layers of mud and rock below the North Sea. The energy firms behind the rig aren’t prospecting for oil or gas. They are searching for a place to stash vast amounts of the greenhouse gases emitted by industrial facilities across Europe.
The Northern Lights project—a $2.6 billion joint venture of Shell PLC, TotalEnergies SE, Equinor ASA and the Norwegian government—is one of almost 200 carbon-sequestration projects now in operation or in development around the world, according to the Global CCS Institute, a think tank that promotes carbon capture. When completed in 2024, Northern Lights will be the world’s biggest effort to sequester, or store, carbon dioxide underground.