• Search for new locations aided by openly accessible data

  • Safe CO2 containment underpinned by data availability

  • Consultation opens on details of new data regime

High-skilled job opportunities, the energy transition, and the drive to reach net zero took a significant step forward today as the growing carbon storage industry began a consultation on making data publicly available.

The North Sea Transition Authority (NSTA) has today (14 February) opened a consultation to determine the precise details of exactly what information should be made public and on what timescales.

'Information gained from geophysical surveys, well data, and injection tests will be among the wealth of valuable information that could be obtained and used in planning and future decision-making.

And once in place the easy access to data will encourage new entrants into the industry and help to cement the United Kingdom’s position as an international leader in the sector which is vital in the drive to reach net zero greenhouse gas emissions.

The National Data Repository already houses more than one petabyte of freely-available information gleaned from more than 60 years of activity. Originally set up to support the oil and gas industry, it is increasingly used by companies, academics and individuals working in carbon storage, offshore wind and hydrogen, and it is expected that this new information will make a significant addition to that resource.

There are currently 27 carbon storage licences in place in UK offshore waters. Twenty-one were awarded last year as a result of the UK’s first-ever carbon storage licensing round. Early progress is being made on them. Six licences were in place prior to the licensing round. The Government has included some of these in the four Track 1 and Track 2 clusters, selected to speed up the growth of the industry and encourage first injection as soon as possible.

The four CCUS clusters are expected to contribute to the target of capturing and storing 20-30 million tonnes per annum (Mtpa) of CO₂ by 2030.

The Government signalled its support for the industry in its Carbon Capture Usage and Storage vision published in December 2023. In that they pledged up to £20 billion investment in the sector and flagged up their aims to:

  • see a new competitive market in Carbon Capture, Usage and Storage (CCUS) by 2035 – to unlock investment and drive economic growth   
  • establish a new CCUS market and use competition to drive lower costs for industry   
  • store the carbon equivalent of taking 6 million cars off the road – and support 50,000 jobs by 2030 

The NSTA Consultation on proposed regulations for disclosure of carbon storage information and samples seeks views on what information should be reported to the NSTA and when it should be made public.

Factors included in the consultation cover:

  • Well information – which can be used to better understand the strata and fluids, and safe engineering of wells, including their safe abandonment.
  • Well samples - physical samples can help understanding of the rocks and provide valuable information about the suitability of an area for carbon storage.
  • Geophysical survey information – techniques for imaging and mapping the subsurface, including streamer and ocean bottom seismic surveys, induced polarisation, magnetic, gravity gradiometric, and electromagnetic surveys. All of which are essential for the purposes of understanding the subsurface.
  • Injection information – the achieved injection rates, temperature and pressure conditions in the storage formation, and the resulting injection characteristics are important indicators for demonstrating store performance.

Respondents are asked their views on each of these topics, and others, regarding the scope of the information which should be disclosed and on what timescales.

Nic Granger, NSTA Director of Corporate, said:

“The carbon storage industry will play an important role in providing high-skilled job opportunities as part of the energy transition and is crucial in reaching net zero.

“Access to this data will enable users to identify potential carbon storage locations and assist decision-making in this growing sector. We are proud to work with colleagues in industry, government, and other regulators in compiling this vital data resource and building this industry.”

 Energy Efficiency and Green Finance Minister Lord Callanan said:

“This is an important move for the UK’s burgeoning carbon capture sector. It will lay the groundwork for a robust framework that will give industry access to the wealth of data on the North Sea and the potential for storing carbon emissions, taking us closer to our net zero goals.

 “We’re already backing carbon capture with up to £20 billion – one of the biggest investments in Europe – and this initiative underscores the UK’s leadership in the global effort to tackle climate change.”

To see further details of the consultation, which will close on 12 April, go here.

Virtual public engagement sessions on the consultation are planned for Thursday, 7 March 2024; 14:00 – 15:00 (Click here to register) and Wednesday, 20 March 2024; 11:00 – 12:00 (Click here to register)

Notes to editors:

For further information please contact: 

Tel: 07785 655620 

Email: pressoffice@nstauthority.co.uk