Plans to store millions of tonnes of CO2 under the North Sea have been approved by the UK Government.
On Friday, the North Sea Transition Authority announced 21 licences have been awarded to 14 companies to store carbon from industry emissions in depleted oil and gas fields, covering around 12,000sq km – an area larger than the central belt of Scotland.
The UK’s offshore oil and gas industry has welcomed the move which could see up to 30 million tonnes of CO2 stored per year by 2030, approximately 10% of the UK’s annual emissions in 2021.
Offshore Energies UK sustainability and policy director Mike Tholen said: “With the potential to store up to 78 billion tonnes of carbon dioxide underneath the UK’s oceans, the UK can lead the way.
“We will need 100 such sites or more to reach net zero, so we mustn’t stop here. The companies investing in nascent opportunities like carbon storage will require the cash flow from a stable and predictable oil and gas business to fund these technologies.”
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 – a carbon storage, hydrogen and offshore wind project.
Other companies have been awarded licences to store carbon off the coasts of Aberdeen, Teesside, and Liverpool.
“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,” Stuart Payne, NSTA chief executive, said.
“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.”