On 18 May 20 carbon storage licences were offered to 12 applicant companies. The companies were not identified by the licensing authority, the North Sea Transition Authority, but Reuters has reported that they include Spirit Energy (Centrica), Neptune Energy, Eni and Equinor.
This is the final stage in a legal process commenced by reason of the EU’s Carbon Capture & Storage Directive 2009/31/EC, not that that rings clear from the NSTA press release. The Directive itself was years in preparation. Applicant holders are required also to hold leases from the Crown Estates (and Scottish equivalent).
The licences grant a right to carry out further appraisals (indeed without an appropriate appraisal the licence will come to an end).
This means that injection into a storage site is not coming any time soon, although NSTA reports that “in some cases first injection could come in as little as six years”. 2050 is the net zero target date, this being a transition technology.
Relevant environmental considerations are very significant and pollution liability arrangements were required from the applicants, but those applicant companies with certain pre-existing presences on the sea bed were able to short-circuit part of the overall process.
Some of the applicant companies are known to have keen CCS plans, competition with the US’ Inflation Reduction Act being said to have created momentum with this EU-derived scheme.
EGW 19.05.2023