UK awards storage licence for depleted gas field in East Irish Sea
London and Dublin-based geo-energy resource company dCarbonX has been awarded a gas storage licence in the East Irish Sea by the UK’s regulator, North Sea Transition Authority (NSTA). This comes as the UK works on boosting its gas storage capacity to strengthen its energy security amid elevated energy prices due to the ongoing global energy crisis.
To this end, Centrica’s Rough, “the UK’s largest natural gas storage site,” was reopened last year to help balance the UK’s gas market, injecting gas into the facility when prices are low and putting that gas back into the UK’s gas network when demand is higher.
In a bid to further bolster the UK’s level of gas storage, the North Sea Transition Authority confirmed on Tuesday, 18 April 2023, that it offered a ten-year gas storage licence to dCarbonX on 5 April for the Bains depleted gas field in the East Irish Sea, east of the Morecambe fields. Located in UKCS block 110/03C, approximately 27 km west of Blackpool, the Bains field consists of a single subsea well, 113/3b-4.
“First injection could come as soon as 2028. The company currently plans to develop Bains for gas storage through the drilling of new wells, and estimates a storage capacity equivalent to three to four days’ supply for the UK. Further regulatory approvals are required before gas storage operations can commence,” explained the UK regulator.
According to the NSTA, the award of this licence allows dCarbonX to progress with seeking further regulatory approvals required before gas storage operations can start, including further approvals from the UK regulator. As dCarbonX claims that Ireland and the UK are committed to the pursuit of the energy transition, the firm believes these locations represent “ideal investment environments.”
The Bains field was discovered in 1988 and commenced production in 2002. The field was developed via well 110/3c-5 and an eight-kilometre subsea tieback to the South Morecambe DP1 platform. The field obtained cessation of production (COP) consent in November 2017 after reaching 85 per cent recovery. Spirit Energy sanctioned its decommissioning programme in 2018.
Regarding Spirit Energy’s latest activities in the Morecambe Bay, the company recently revealed plans to convert its depleted South Morecambe and North Morecambe gas fields and Barrow onshore gas terminal into a carbon storage cluster, if granted a licence by the North Sea Transition Authority (NSTA) and subject to other regulatory approvals.
This cluster will provide a carbon storage solution for the UK’s industrial heartlands and is set to be “one of the biggest carbon storage and hydrogen production clusters in the UK,” says Spirit Energy.