• Net zero boost as carbon storage licences accepted in the UK portion of the North Sea and Irish Sea

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      Greg Kelsall

The North Sea Transition Authority (NSTA) in the UK announced recently the list of companies which have accepted licenses following the UK’s first-ever carbon storage licensing round.  A total of 14 companies were awarded 21 licences in depleted oil and gas reservoirs and saline aquifers which cover around 12,000 km2. The locations could store up to 30 MtCO2/y by 2030, approximately 10% of UK annual emissions which were 342 million tonnes in 2021. 

Shell, Perenco and ENI have all been awarded licences off the coast of Norfolk in sites which could form part of the Bacton Energy Hub. This is a carbon storage, hydrogen and offshore wind project, which could provide low-carbon energy for London and the South East for decades to come and help in the drive to net zero greenhouse gas emissions.  Other locations include sites off the coasts of Aberdeen, Teesside, and Liverpool.  

Stuart Payne, NSTA Chief Executive, said: “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. It is exciting to award these licences 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.” 

It is estimated that as many as 100 storage licences will be needed to meet the requirements for reaching net zero and the volume of applications received for the first round demonstrated the industry’s desire for further opportunities. 

Six licences have already been granted by the NSTA and the Government recently announced £20bn 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.

Lord Callanan, Minister for Energy Efficiency and Green Finance, said: “The UK has one of the largest potential carbon dioxide storage capacities in Europe, putting us in prime position to be world leaders in carbon capture – which is why we’ve committed an unprecedented £20 billion to develop the early stage development of carbon capture, usage and storage (CCUS). “These new licences confirmed today will be vital to realising our CCUS potential, playing a key role in the energy transition to help boost our energy security and achieve our net zero targets, while also bringing in private investment and supporting thousands of jobs.”

The NSTA, The Crown Estate and Crown Estate Scotland are working in close collaboration to help meet the UK Government’s ambitious carbon storage targets of 20-30 MtCO2/y by 2030, and over 50 MtCO2/y by 2035. Details of the licensee awardees and locations are shown below.


Licence number Licensee Partners (where applicable Area Other info (Area of interest)
CS008 ENI UK   SNS SNS Area 4 Hewett Area
CS010 Spirit Energy Production UK   EIS EIS Area 1 Morecambe Area
CS011 Pale Blue Dot Energy Shell UK; Chrysaor CNS CNS Area 2 Acorn East
CS012 Pale Blue Dot Energy Ltd  Shell UK;  Chrysaor   CNS CNS Area 1 East Mey
CS013 Enquest CCS   NNS NNS Area 1 Magnus sub area
CS014 Enquest CCS    NNS NNS Area 1 Thistle sub area
CS015 Enquest CCS    NNS NNS Area 2 Tern sub area
CS016 Enquest CCS    NNS NNS Area 2 Eider sub area
CS017 Perenco UK Carbon Catalyst SNS SNS Area6B Amethyst
CS018 Perenco UK  Carbon Catalyst SNS SNS Area 6A West Sole
CS019 Synergia Energy CCS Wintershall Dea Carbon Mgt Solutions SNS SNS Area 4 Camelot Area
CS020 Neptune Energy CCS Projects   SNS SNS Area 1 BC05 sub area
CS021 Neptune Energy CCS Projects Esso Exploration and Production UK SNS SNS Area 5 Bunter BC13
CS022 Neptune Energy CCS Projects    SNS SNS Area 7 Caister Bunter
CS023 Chrysaor Production UK BP Exploration Operating Company SNS SNS Area 4 Vulcan area
CS024 Chrysaor Production UK  BP Exploration Operating Company  SNS SNA Area 8 Audrey
CS025 BP Exploration Operating Company Equinor New Energy SNS SNS Area 1 BC42 sub area
CS026 Shell UK Esso Exploration & Production UK SNS SNS Area 2 Sean Fields
CS027 Shell UK  Esso Exploration & Production UK  SNS SNS Area 2 Indefatigable field
CS028 Shell UK  Esso Exploration & Production UK SNS SNS Area 3

Notes: SNS- Southern North Sea, NNS- Northern North Sea, EIS- Eastern Irish Sea