Carbon capture and storage

UK Awards 21 Licenses for Carbon Storage

Fourteen companies scooped up the licenses to sequester carbon in depleted oil and gas reservoirs and saline aquifers offshore UK.

Source: North Sea Transition Authority

The North Sea Transition Authority (NSTA) on 15 September announced the companies that have accepted licenses following the UK’s first carbon storage licensing round. Fourteen companies have been awarded 21 licenses in depleted oil and gas reservoirs and saline aquifers that cover approximately 12,000 km2.

The locations could store up to 30 million tonnes per year of CO2 by 2030, approximately 10% of UK’s annual emissions, which were 341.5 million tonnes in 2021.

Shell, Perenco, and Eni have all been awarded licenses off the coast of Norfolk in sites that could form part of the Bacton Energy Hub—a carbon-storage, hydrogen, and offshore-wind project that could provide low-carbon energy for London and the South East for decades and help in the drive to net-zero greenhouse-gas emissions.

Other locations include sites off the coasts of Aberdeen, Teesside, and Liverpool.

“Carbon storage will play a crucial role in the energy transition, storing carbon dioxide deep under the seabed and playing a key role in hydrogen production and energy hubs,” said Stuart Payne, chief executive of the NSTA. “It is exciting to award these licenses, and our teams will support the licensees to bring about first injection of carbon dioxide as soon as possible. We will also continue to work with industry and government to enable further licensing activity and back the UK’s drive to net-zero emissions.”

As many as 100 storage licenses are estimated to be needed to meet the requirements for reaching net zero.

The NSTA said it will assess the response and the quality of opportunities in locations across the UK before deciding when to run a second round.

Six licenses have already been granted by the NSTA, and the UK government recently announced £20 billion funding for the progression of these existing projects. Two locations, Hynet and the East Coast Cluster, have been selected as Track 1, while Acorn and Viking CCS projects have been chosen as the Track 2 clusters.

Ruth Herbert, chief executive of the Carbon Capture and Storage Association (CCSA), said, “The CCSA welcomes the acceptance of carbon storage licenses, a significant step towards achieving net zero. These licenses mark a substantial milestone towards widespread deployment of CCS.

“With the potential to store almost 10% of the UK’s greenhouse-gas emissions in these new locations, starting to develop these sites paves the way for a cleaner and more sustainable future. The next step is a carbon capture deployment plan to enable us to fully exploit our future CO2 storage capacity.”