Licensing round opens to bidders for carbon storage sites in the North Sea

The North Sea Transition Authority (NSTA) has launched the UK’s first-ever carbon storage licensing round in the North Sea. It says it is “in response to unprecedented levels of interest from companies eager to enter the market”. The 13 areas on offer have the right geological conditions, proximity to existing infrastructure with the potential to be re-purposed, and links to industrial clusters that will need carbon storage.
It says, “The level of interest already expressed suggests there will be strong competition meaning that prospective licensees will need to produce high-quality bids to win licences” in the area, which are off the coast of Aberdeen, Teesside, Liverpool and Lincolnshire in the Southern North Sea, Central North Sea, Northern North Sea, and East Irish Sea. They are saline aquifers and depleted oil and gas fields. Applicants will also need to obtain a lease from The Crown Estate or Crown Estate Scotland.
NSTA said it would be the first of many rounds – it says up to 100 CO2 stores could be required in order to meet the net zero by 2050 target.
There are currently six carbon storage licences on the UK Continental Shelf which NSTA says could meet up to one-fifth of storage needs, if they reach their maximum potential of up to 40 Mt/yr injection rates by the mid-2030s. It says, “Whilst the capacity estimates of the areas offered in this round carry some uncertainty at this stage, they offer the potential to make a very significant contribution to decarbonisation of the UK.”
The application window is open for 90 days, to 13 September, and will be evaluated by the NSTA on technical and financial criteria. Licences will be awarded in early 2023.
NSTA has agreed a Memorandum of Understanding with Ofgem, which will be the economic regulator for the transport and storage of carbon dioxide.

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