On 30th April 2024, the North Sea Transition Authority (NSTA) announced an out-of-round carbon dioxide appraisal and storage licensing application window which invites prospective applications to bring CO2 storage projects to an area of the English Channel. Those who are ultimately successful will obtain exclusive rights for the exploration and appraisal of potential storage sites. The areas available for licensing span quadrants 96, 97, 98 and 99, and are further detailed in Appendix 2 of the NSTA announcement.

The window for applications to be submitted closed on Wednesday 5th June.  A note of interest must have been submitted within the first two weeks (i.e. by 14th May) pending a full application.

Once the application window closes, the NSTA will technically evaluate the applications received and the Offshore Petroleum Regulator for Environment and Decommissioning (OPRED) will undertake an assessment based on the Habitats Regulations. As with all carbon capture and storage (CCS) activities, there will also require to be interface with the Crown Estate to ensure the successful applicant(s) obtain a Crown Lease.

Offshore Energies UK (OEUK) has estimated that the English Channel has the ability to store over 1 gigatonnes of CO2, which would significantly contribute towards the aim of projecting the UK to the forefront of CCS in the international market.

Last year, the UK Government outlined its vision for the CCS industry, with Chancellor Jeremy Hunt promising an investment of up to £20 billion and that there is potential to create 50,000 jobs by 2050, as well as the ability to store the carbon equivalent of removing 6 million cars from our roads. The UK oil and gas supply chain has significant transferrable skills which have the potential to support CCS project success. OEUK's UK Supply Chain Forecast 2024, which we have previously analysed, illustrated that around 80% of UK CCS expenditure could be targeted by the current oil and gas supply chain. The UK CCS targetable supply chain has the capability to be worth £2.6 billion by 2040.

However, many experts in the industry have voiced concerns over the current political policy environment and have reiterated the urgent requirement for the UK Government to strengthen this area to persuade investors to commit to projects in UK waters.

OEUK Policy and Sustainability Director Michael Tholen said:

"The UK's CCS Sector now needs to be matched by a clear policy environment to provide certainty to investors".

With the General Election due later this year, and the significant move to expand the CCS market in the UK, we will watch this space to monitor developments in this evolving industry.


Christy Young


Katie Millar