North Sea Transition Authority awards BP and Equinor carbon storage licenses


The drive to reach net zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050 has taken a sizeable step forward with the award of two carbon storage (CS) licenses in the Southern North Sea.    

The North Sea Transition Authority (NSTA) has awarded the licenses to bp and Equinor with an appraisal term of eight years. The agreed work programs require the licensees to show progress achieving milestones, such as performing seismic surveys of the four proposed storage sites and drilling wells to acquire data before applying for a storage permit.    

 The four separate storage sites are located around 70 km (43 miles) off the coast of Humberside. Combined with the existing license granted for the Endurance carbon store, they could eventually contribute to the storage of up to 23 Mtpa of CO2 around 1,400 m beneath the seabed. The government’s target for Carbon Capture, Usage and Storage is to reach 20-30 Mtpa by 2030, and over 50 Mtpa by 2035.    

 NSTA is now stewarding six CS licenses on the UKCS, having awarded five licenses since 2018 and agreed a transfer of a sixth.    

Current project estimates indicate that earliest injection from a CS project could come as soon as 2025 given the progress already seen in the HyNet, Northern Endurance Partnership’s East Coast Cluster and V Net Zero Humber Cluster projects.     

 The NSTA, The Crown Estate and Crown Estate Scotland recently issued a Joint Statement in which the three organizations pledged continued collaboration to unlock the potential of carbon storage.       

“The NSTA is pleased to award these licenses which have the potential to make a significant contribution towards the government’s net zero target,” said Scott Robertson, NSTA Director of Operations. “Carbon storage and low carbon gas production, alongside growth in hydrogen and renewable energy, are all key elements of the energy transition and a crucial part in tackling the climate emergency, but we know that time is short and real action must be taken rapidly, so we will work closely with bp and Equinor to ensure that milestones on this project are met, as we do with other projects across the North Sea.”       

Carbon capture provides a key opportunity for the future of the North Sea and UK industries, said Energy and Climate Change Minister Greg Hands, adding they are determined to make the UK a world leader in this developing market.     

“The North Sea Transition Authority’s decision to grant bp and Equinor carbon storage licenses is great news for the Humber, Teesside and the East Coast Cluster, which represents almost 50% of the UK’s industrial cluster CO2 emissions,” said Andy Lane, Northern Endurance Partnership Managing Director. “This is another important milestone for the East Coast Cluster which will capture and safely store CO2 emissions from a wide range of industrial and power projects, protect and create thousands of jobs and help establish the Teesside and Humber regions as a globally-competitive climate-friendly hub for industry and innovation.”     

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