12 firms win offshore carbon storage licences

Twelve companies have been awarded 20 offshore carbon storage licences, the North Sea Transition Authority (NSTA) announced yesterday.

The companies include Enquest, which won four licences, Neptune Energy, which won three, and Spirit Energy, which one. Other firms have not been named. The licences cover sites off Lincolnshire, Aberdeen, Teesside, and Liverpool.

Once the new storage sites are in operation – and in some cases first injection could come in as little as six years – they could make a significant contribution to the aim of storing up to 30 million tonnes of carbon dioxide (CO2) per year by 2030, approximately 10% of total UK annual emissions, the NSTA said.

NSTA chief executive Stuart Payne said: “As a nation, we cannot meet our decarbonisation targets without carbon storage. This is net zero delivery in action.”

He added, “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.”

Lord Callanan, Minister for Energy Efficiency and Green Finance, said, “These new licences, together with fresh powers granted to NSTA within the landmark Energy Bill, will develop our most comprehensive picture yet of UK’s carbon capture and storage potential, strengthening our energy security and cutting emissions while creating thousands of skilled British jobs.”

Ruth Herbert, chief executive of the Carbon Capture and Storage Association, said: “This first carbon storage licensing round from the NSTA is a vital step towards unlocking the UK’s full CO2 storage potential. Given the climate emergency, we hope this will be the first of many such rounds and that further sites around the UK will have opportunity to apply in the near future.”