Tony Smith says he is proud to be a “born and bred Teessider”.
He knows of the grit and skills it took to cement as an industrial heartland – and is confident it has bags more talent just waiting to carve out a bright, new green energy future.
In the 1980s, Tony worked locally for major industrial companies on Teesside, including chemicals company ICI and British Steel. He witnessed first-hand the area’s long decline as local factories shut down, shedding thousands of jobs.
“Every family had someone who worked in heavy industry, but all that went away,” says the Project Controls Manager, who is now helping to lead bp’s planned project to build Net Zero Teesside Power (NZT Power), the world’s first commercial-scale gas-fired power station equipped with carbon capture technology. Tony’s work also supports the Northern Endurance Partnership (NEP), a CO2 transportation and storage company which will deliver the onshore and offshore infrastructure needed to capture carbon from a range of emitters across Teesside and the Humber and transport it to offshore storage in the Endurance store.
Today, Tony is optimistic that the area’s rich industrial heritage is making a comeback – this time powered by low carbon energy and a growing cluster of major projects designed to help the UK meet its ambition to achieve net zero emissions by 2050.
"Although Teesside has experienced some tough times in the past, people here have the skills we need for a major project like this", he says.
Teesside is uniquely placed to become the heartland for the country’s energy transformation. It’s home to a cluster of hard-to-abate industries, which currently account for 5.6% of the UK’s total industrial emissions. It also has access to UK natural gas and carbon storage in the North Sea and already has an inventory of existing guaranteed customers.
NZT Power has the potential to be able to generate 860 MW of low carbon electricity, enough to supply around 1.3 million homes, and its CCUS infrastructure could capture and store up to 2 million tonnes of CO2 per year.
Tony leads a team of project controls professionals that are responsible for ensuring that cost, schedule and project performance are managed robustly, and he is working closely with multiple stakeholders involved in the project. In partnership with Equinor, Shell, Total and National Grid, bp - as the lead operator - is hoping to secure funding from the UK government for the planned NZT and NEP projects. They form part of the East Coast Cluster, a joint initiative which will be vital for supporting low-carbon industry across the North East of England.
“We’re at a tipping point at the forefront of the decarbonisation agenda - it’s an exciting time for Teesside.”
And for Tony, these projects have the potential to create exactly the type of positive ripple effects for the region – including jobs.
Tony first came across bp when he was seconded to a refinery in Toledo, Ohio. After joining the company in 2012, he went on to support bp’s major project teams across the world. He moved back to Teesside to work on NZT Power and NEP projects last year.
“I’m proud to be from Teesside,” he says.
“Our roots and what the region achieved are a real testament to its work ethic, which underlines why it’s the perfect location to kick start the UK’s green industrial revolution.”
In the Sustainability Report for 2020 our aim 5 – More $ for clean energies – is to increase the proportion of investment we make into our non-oil and gas businesses
We aim to be a very different kind of energy company by 2030 as we scale up investment in low carbon, focus our oil and gas production and make headway on reducing emissions
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