Oil and gas companies BP and Equinor have been awarded licenses to store CO2 under the UK North Sea seabed.
According to the North Sea Transition Authority (NSTA), which awarded the licenses with an appraisal term of eight years, the Southern North Sea licenses could store up to 23 million tonnes of CO2 per year by 2038. According to NSTA, an average car creates approximately 2 tonnes of CO2 a year.
"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," NSTA, until recently known as the Oil and Gas Authority, said Thursday. Still, NSTA said that the licenses do not convey permission for development activities, including drilling and injection testing, as these require further consents from the NSTA. A licensee also requires a lease from the Crown Estate/Crown Estate Scotland (as applicable) before undertaking storage activities.
The licenses contain four separate carbon storage sites located around 70 km (43 miles) off the coast of Humberside. Combined with the existing licence 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.
The Northern Endurance Partnership is a joint venture between bp, Equinor, National Grid Ventures, Shell, and TotalEnergies.
The Northern Endurance Partnership’s East Coast Cluster, which unites the Humber and Teesside with infrastructure to decarbonise industry and establish a platform for economic growth, was selected as a track one cluster in the UK Government’s first phase of the Carbon Capture, Usage and Storage (CCUS) cluster sequencing process.
NSTA is now stewarding six carbon storage licenses on the UKCS, having awarded five licenses since 2018 and agreed on 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," NSTA said.
Scott Robertson, NSTA Director of Operations, said: "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.”
Andy Lane, Northern Endurance Partnership Managing Director, said: "The North Sea Transition Authority’s decision to grant bp and Equinor carbon storage licences is great news for the Humber, Teesside and the East Coast Cluster, which represents almost 50% of the UK’s industrial cluster CO2 emissions. 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.”
Grete Tveit, Senior Vice President for Low Carbon Solutions, Equinor, said: “We're delighted these licences were awarded to Equinor and bp by the North Sea Transition Authority. This is a major milestone for the East Coast Cluster project which will make a tangible impact in the UK's climate change ambitions. Delivered with our partners in the Humber, Teesside and the Northern Endurance Partnership, the East Coast Cluster will not only establish the UK as a leader in the energy transition, but will also secure and create tens of thousands of jobs and bring investment to local communities.”