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Four CS appraisal licences in England's share of the North Sea could help the UK reach its net zero objectives.

By Callum Cyrus

BP and Equinor have secured carbon storage licences from the UK's North Sea Transition Authority (NSTA), enabling them to appraise four sites off the coast of Humberside, the NSTA announced May 12.

The IOCs will have eight years to conduct appraisal work on the storage sites. The agreed work programs involve seismic surveys and appraisal wells.

After the appraisal term is completed, BP and Equinor will have the option of applying for full storage permits. The acreage lies around 70 km from the North Sea coast at Humberside.

The NSTA has now awarded six appraisal licences for potential carbon storage in the UK's continental shelf. It estimates BP and Equinor's work in the northeast, combined with the UK's existing Endurance carbon storage project, could ultimately deliver a CO2 storage capacity of up to 23mn metric tons/year.

By the end of this decade, Whitehall aims to expand carbon storage capacity to 20 to 30mn mt/yr, and this could rise to above 50mn mt/yr by 2035. The first injection of CO2 into a UKCS-licensed storage could, the NSTA estimates, take place in three years time.

NSTA director of operations Scott Robertson said: "The NSTA is pleased to award these licences which have the potential to make a significant contribution towards the government's net zero target.

"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."