During more than three decades in the oil and gas business, Andy Lane has managed the construction of enormous facilities for extracting and transporting natural gas, in places like Trinidad and Indonesia.
Now he is working in his native England, taking on a complex and expensive venture that essentially aims to reverse what he has spent much of his career doing.
Mr. Lane’s newest assignment is designed to collect carbon pollution from a group of chemical plants in northeast England and send it to a reservoir deep under the North Sea.
The multibillion-dollar project could be a breakthrough for a technology known as carbon capture and storage, a concept that has been around for at least a quarter-century to reduce the climate-damaging emissions from factories.
President Biden promoted carbon capture’s promise; last month, Exxon Mobil announced a $3 billion investment in low-carbon efforts, including carbon capture; and a week later, Elon Musk promised to put up $100 million for a contest seeking the best carbon-capture technology.
The project in England, in an area called Teesside along the River Tees, is led by the oil giant BP and expects to have size on its side: The area is home to one of the country’s largest clusters of polluting factories and refineries. By linking them together — collecting all their emissions by pipeline, and charging them a fee — BP hopes to achieve sufficient scale to make a profitable business of tackling their pollution.
Teesside “has quite a lot of the big industrial emissions sources in the U.K., and that is why this project makes sense,” Mr. Lane said.
It is also fast becoming a focal point of attention in Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s government, which is eager to cement support in the onetime Labour stronghold. The area’s turn toward Mr. Johnson’s Conservative Party helped it win big in the 2019 national election.
his budget presentation in Parliament that day, citing the carbon capture effort as he called Teesside “the future economy of this country.”
Mr. Lane and the area’s influential Conservative mayor, Ben Houchen — described by Mr. Sunak as “an inspiring local leader” — portray carbon capture as the means to rejuvenating run-down industrial regions like Teesside.
“It puts the region on the map and attracts additional investment,” Mr. Houchen said.