Westwood analyzes winning bids for UK carbon storage lease round

May 30, 2023
Westwood Global Energy Group has conducted a review of awards issued earlier this month by the NSTA under the UK’s 1st Carbon Storage Licensing Round.

Offshore staff

LONDON  Westwood Global Energy Group has conducted a review of awards issued earlier this month by the North Sea Transition Authority (NSTA) under the UK’s 1st Carbon Storage Licensing Round.

The NSTA provisionally offered 20 carbon storage licenses to 12 companies. These could potentially store up to 10% of Britain’s annual emissions.

Westwood has assessed the licenses to identify the potential storage targets in depleted hydrocarbon reservoirs and saline aquifers.

In total, 19 companies lodged 26 bids by last September’s deadline for the 13 areas available, with the total acreage awarded covering about 12,230 sq km.

The Southern North Sea area was the most keenly contested and accounted for 13 of the license awards.

Although details of the individual work programs have not been released, the NSTA stated at the EGC1 conference in Aberdeen on May 18 that the applicants committed to a total of five firm wells or tests, nine contingent wells or tests, and four firm and five contingent new seismic acquisition work programs.

Of those to comment on their awards, Spirit Energy confirmed receiving an offer for EIS Area 1, supporting its proposed scheme to establish a Morecambe Net Zero Cluster in the East Irish Sea region. EnQuest gained four licenses in northern North Sea Areas 1 and 2. Neptune Energy is understood to have picked up three licenses, while Perenco and partner Carbon Catalyst confirmed license offers in the southern sector.

Synergia Energy said one of the two applications it made was under consideration by the NSTA; Westwood assumes this has been successful and that negotiations are underway.

Others thought to have been successful are bp, Equinor and Eni, along with one or more of the participants in the Acorn Carbon Capture and Storage project, Storegga, Shell, Harbour Energy and NSMP.

Companies will likely accept their awards over the next few weeks. Should any decide to turn down an offer due to the proposed work program or area awarded being smaller than applied for, the NSTA will offer that license to another company that applied for the same area.

Westwood’s analysis also identified numerous companies that probably submitted bids based on ownership of existing oil and gas infrastructure and carbon storage licenses, but which may not have been successful.

It is unclear how the new licenses will impact E&P operators still producing within the awarded acreage, the consultants added.