The Consents and Authorisations team is part of the Regulation directorate. The team prepare, authorise, and issue formal consents and authorisations to enable oil and gas fields to be developed and hydrocarbons produced as well as for natural gas, hydrogen and carbon dioxide to be transported and stored offshore.

A Pipeline Works Authorisation is required to construct and use new subsea pipelines in the UKCS. Changes are made via Category 1 and 2 applications which cover the further installation, modification or removal of pipelines. Where a pipeline needs support or protection, deposits can be laid on the seabed to assist with this. Every pipeline has a Holder, User, Operator and Owner associated to it. Where fields have ceased production, Consents then consider Decommissioning applications which allow for discussions on the re-use of pipelines.   

Further information on each of the applications detailed above can be found here. 

The Pipeline Safety Regulations 1996 were introduced by the Health and Safety Executive; as part of a consolidation exercise, the Petroleum Act 1998 repealed and replaced the Petroleum and Submarine Pipelines Act 1975 and the Offshore Petroleum Production and Pipelines (Assessment of Environmental Effects) Regulations 1999  came into effect in 1999.  All have had an impact on the offshore Pipeline Works Authorisation (PWA) process. In the case of pipelines in respect of which an environmental statement is required under the Offshore Oil and Gas Exploration, Production, Unloading and Storage (Environmental Impact Assessment) Regulations 2020, the application may take longer to progress. Please see link to EIA regulation Webpage: Oil and gas: offshore environmental legislation - GOV.UK (www.gov.uk).

The NSTA is the licensing/consenting authority for offshore hydrogen pipelines which are covered under the PWA arrangements.

The NSTA regulates offshore carbon dioxide storage – we are the licensing authority and issue storage permits – and maintains the carbon storage public register. The NSTA is also the licensing/consenting authority for offshore carbon storage pipelines which are covered under the PWA arrangements. For further information please see link to UK carbon dioxide storage Webpage: Carbon Storage (nstauthority.co.uk).

Before submitting an application, we recommend that, the prospective owner informally consults both the NSTA Consents team and the Health and Safety Executive and DESNZ EMT the earliest possible opportunity, to discuss the proposed scheme and the regulatory requirements. 

The Pipeline Operator is the entity, on behalf of the pipeline owners and users, responsible for planning, organising, supervising or conducting activities associated with the operation of the pipeline.

It is recommended that potential operators who plan to undertake any pipeline works in relation to Petroleum, Hydrogen or Carbon Dioxide projects that do not currently hold an approved Pipeline Operator status from the NSTA, should then discuss the NSTA’s requirements at the earliest opportunity in order to provide the necessary assurance to the NSTA that it has a suitably qualified management team and an appropriate organisation in terms of structure and skills to plan and conduct development and/or production operations.

Further information on the pipeline operator process can be found at Operatorship (nstauthority.co.uk).

All new pipeline works authorisation applications submitted to the NSTA for consideration after 14 October 2021 should be progressed and submitted via the PWA Portal system which can be accessed here

The PWA Portal is an online system which allows regulatory users to submit and, where appropriate, obtain consents to construct and use pipelines (and lay any associated deposits) in the UKCS. The system digitalises an existing manual process and includes provision for payment of the applicable fees to be made online. 

If you have any issues regarding the system, please provide a detailed description of the issue and email consents@nstauthority.co.uk.

It should be noted that in the new PWA Portal there is no feature to store card details against User accounts, as such payment information will need to be provided on each application. 

For details of current fees and guidance see North Sea Transition Authority (NSTA): Charging regime - Legislative context.

 

As a new user on the PWA Portal System you will first need to register for a UK Energy Portal Account using the self-register function here. 

Once this has been done, please contact your “Team Administrator” in your organisation to confirm the UK Energy Portal Account has been set up and provide them with the specific login email address that has been used, as the “Team Administrator” for your organisation will need to use this to set up permissions/roles in the new system for you. 

If your organisation does not have a “Team Administrator” set up in the PWA Portal System, then follow the steps above to set up a UK Energy Portal Account then please contact the NSTA via email to consents@nstauthority.co.uk requesting to be set up as a “Team Administrator” for your organisation. The NSTA will take this forward then provide further information on setting up your teams with permission/roles.