EXCLUSIVE: Mike Hughes hears the inside story of bp’s remarkable £4bn investment in the region from Ian Hunter, managing director of NZT Power. 

It was one of the biggest ‘gamechangers’ the region has ever seen - just a few days ago, bp’s Net Zero Teesside Power and the Northern Endurance Partnership chose their key specialist contractors for engineering, procurement, and construction projects on Teesside with a combined value of around £4billion.

Announcing the contractors across eight packages is a major milestone and gives a much-needed confirmation of plans and job projections which had been possible targets and now seem to be confirmed parts of the timeline.

Ian Hunter, as managing director of NZT Power, has been piloting the whole project since it was just two people having a ‘what if’ conversation in a bp office.

Now - subject to regulatory clearances and FIDs (Final Investment Decisions) around September - this joint venture between bp and Equinor is a full-scale gas fired-power station fully ‎integrated with carbon capture.

Through a network of pipes that stretch around Teesside, NEP’s Teesside facilities will gather and compress ‎CO2 from NZT Power and other customers and export it offshore for permanent storage in the undersea Endurance aquifer.

The Northern Echo: Remediation work continues at TeesworksRemediation work continues at Teesworks

It’s difficult to get your head around the sheer scale of it all, but since the first time we met, Ian has been determined to distil it down to the local implications - jobs, skills and global attention.

On a visit to the Teesworks site, he told me: “We’ve been working hard over the past couple of years to make sure we were attracting companies from the local supply chains – and we’ve already had supplier events where we have been talking to 500 companies.

“But the big announcement that we’ve selected Liberty Steel to provide a significant amount of the steel for the pipeline is great news for them and great news for the UK because of the longevity of this sort of project.

“A big part of what we’re trying to do is help people come into the low carbon sector, so that means getting into the schools and inspiring young people to do technology and engineering, creating new apprenticeships and graduate roles, as well as helping older experienced workers to retrain.”

Press releases aside, you have to sit in front of people like Ian and see the emotion and commitment as they outline their plans, knowing the way it will change lives.

“Personally, it’s been an incredible journey,” he admits.

“We’ve gone from two people in a room pitching ideas through to the involvement now with companies, local authorities and the Government - they have all supported us so much on this.

“We have had support across business and the political spectrum, now what you find in Teesside is when you ask people what they think about the project, what they really want to know about is the jobs - just what are the opportunities here?

The Northern Echo: bp's Teesworks sitebp's Teesworks site

“So it tends to be a very positive story and if you look at the technology we’re developing here, we’re really putting Teesside on the map globally. This power station with carbon capture will be the first of its kind anywhere in the world.”

As bp and the partner companies it has now named gear up for the work ahead, NZT and all of its associated threads have become a cluster.

Someone has to take the first step to make that happen and thankfully for Teesside, bp saw the potential and made the move.

“It’s hard to overemphasise the importance of getting the first projects started,” said Ian.

“Once you’ve got one under construction, it gives a massive boost in investor confidence and attracts more companies to come here and invest and make sure that those construction jobs can work on projects like Net Teesside Power and the Northern Endurance Partnership.

“For all the partners, including bp, it’s very consistent with the strategy that we set out in terms of developing such projects in the UK and more widely overseas. So this is certainly a flagship project for the partners, but it’s hopefully the beginning of a growing industry that we will see elsewhere in the world.

“Each of these milestones can be challenging individually.

The Northern Echo: Ben Houchen and Ian Hunter at TeesworksBen Houchen and Ian Hunter at Teesworks

“But as you overcome each one, you get this growing sense of confidence that we’re going to make it to the FID and get construction underway which is when you’ll see the real benefits in terms of jobs and supply chain involvement – they will really take off.

“Then we will tap into the wealth of skills that we’ve got locally.

“That means the whole range of construction trades through the construction period, but after the projects start operating, you will then get ongoing operations and maintenance type roles that will last for generations.”

bp’s big three

Net Zero Teesside Power

One of the world’s first commercial-scale gas fired power stations with carbon capture technology could generate up to 860 megawatts of low carbon electricity, enough to power the equivalent of up to 1.3m homes per year, close to 5% of all homes in the UK. A joint venture between bp and Equinor, with bp leading as operator.


One of the UK’s largest blue hydrogen production facilities could capture and send for storage two million tonnes of CO₂ per year, via the NEP, equivalent to capturing the emissions from the heating of one million UK households.

HyGreen Teesside

Aims to be one of the biggest ‘green’ hydrogen facilities in the UK and will fuel the development of Teesside into the UK’s first major hydrogen transport hub, leading the way for large-scale decarbonisation.