20 carbon storage licenses offshore UK offered to 12 companies

The North Sea Transition Authority (NSTA) has offered 12 companies awards for 20 carbon storage licenses in the UK’s first-ever CO2 storage licensing round.

Source: NSTA

The NSTA launched the UK’s first-ever carbon storage licensing round in June 2022, with applications closing in September. The 20 licenses in total are around 12,000 square kilometers in size and are located near Aberdeen, Teesside, Liverpool, and Lincolnshire.

Once the new storage sites are in operation, they could store up to 30 million tonnes of CO2 per year by 2030, approximately 10 per cent of total UK annual emissions, which were 341.5 million tonnes in 2021.

First injection could come in as little as six years, the NSTA said.

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“The awards we offer today could store around 10% of the UK’s emissions, and through our engagement with applicants, we will have committed work plans in place such as seismic surveys and drilling of wells – we are working with industry to move at real pace,” said Stuart Payne, NSTA Chief Executive.

“The UK’s offshore waters remain the crown jewel of our energy mix, providing energy security, emissions reduction and carbon storage. This will require more and more integration and collaboration in a crowded space, and we are working closely with governments and agencies such as The Crown Estate and Crown Estate Scotland to ensure we maximise this amazing potential.”

According to the NSTA, the licenses include a range of geological store types and were selected following a process that considered attributes such as geology, proximity to existing infrastructure and links to industrial clusters which are expecting carbon storage to help meet decarbonization goals.

The need to share offshore space with other users of the seabed such as wind developers and petroleum operations was also considered as part of the licensing process.

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The offers come in the wake of the Chancellor’s announcement that the UK Government is allocating up to £20 billion in support of developing carbon capture, usage and storage (CCUS), starting with projects in the East Coast, Merseyside and North Wales.

Once a license has been awarded by the NSTA, the licensee needs to obtain a seabed lease from The Crown Estate or Crown Estate Scotland before a project can progress. Further consents and approvals will be required ahead of any appraisal activity taking place on carbon storage licenses.

“The development of the vast carbon dioxide storage available to the UK will be vital to achieving the nation’s net zero targets and today’s announcement is a welcome step towards the greater use of this technology,” said Colin Palmer, Director of Marine at Crown Estate Scotland.

“Crown Estate Scotland is working closely with the NSTA, along with colleagues in The Crown Estate, Scottish & UK Governments, and interested project developers to develop appropriate access to seabed and enable greater deployment of CCS in Scottish waters, where it will complement the ambitious programme of offshore wind projects that could help transform the UK energy market.”