14 companies secure carbon storage licences in UK North Sea


United Kingdom – The North Sea Transition Authority (NSTA) has marked a significant milestone in the United Kingdom’s journey towards a sustainable and carbon-neutral future. NSTA announced the list of 14 companies that have been awarded licenses in the UK’s first-ever carbon storage licensing round.

These licenses, covering an area equivalent to the size of Yorkshire, encompass depleted oil and gas reservoirs as well as saline aquifers. The potential of these locations is enormous, with the capacity to store up to 30 million tonnes of CO2 per year by 2030. This figure represents approximately 10% of the UK’s annual emissions, which stood at 341.5 million tonnes in 2021.

Among the notable recipients of these licenses are industry giants Shell, Perenco, and eni, which have secured licenses off the coast of Norfolk. These sites could become integral components of the Bacton Energy Hub—a visionary project combining carbon storage, hydrogen production, and offshore wind energy. The hub has the potential to supply low-carbon energy to London and the Southeast for decades, making substantial strides towards achieving net-zero greenhouse gas emissions.

In addition to Norfolk, the licensed sites are located off the coasts of Aberdeen, Teesside, and Liverpool. These strategic locations are poised to play a pivotal role in the UK’s transition to a sustainable and green energy landscape.

Industry’s eagerness

Carbon storage involves securely storing carbon dioxide deep beneath the seabed, making it a key enabler for hydrogen production and energy hubs. To fully address the requirements for reaching net zero, it is estimated that as many as 100 storage licenses will be needed. The overwhelming response and high-quality applications received during the first round underscore the industry’s eagerness for additional opportunities. NSTA plans to assess the response and evaluate opportunities across the UK before deciding on the timing of a second licensing round.

NSTA has already granted six licenses, and the UK government recently allocated £20 billion in funding to advance these existing carbon storage projects. Two of these projects, Hynet and the East Coast Cluster, have been designated as Track 1, while Acorn and Viking CCS projects are categorized as Track 2 clusters. The cluster sequencing process has been designed to provide industry players with the certainty necessary to accelerate carbon storage initiatives.

Carbon storage targets

The collaboration between NSTA, The Crown Estate (TCE), and Crown Estate Scotland (CES) is pivotal in achieving the UK government’s ambitious carbon storage targets of 20-30 million tonnes of CO2 emissions per year by 2030 and over 50 million tonnes by 2035. This collaboration not only aligns with the nation’s path to net zero but also contributes significantly to environmental sustainability.

The next crucial step, she noted, is the development of a carbon capture deployment plan to fully harness the UK’s future CO2 storage capacity. The joint efforts of NSTA, TCE, and CES exemplify the collaborative approach needed to meet the UK’s ambitious carbon storage goals, contributing to a sustainable and environmentally responsible future.