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UK Oil & Gas Authority grants carbon storage licence to reuse depleted gas fields

11 October 2021

The Oil and Gas Authority (OGA) has awarded a carbon dioxide (CO2) appraisal and storage licence (CS licence) to Harbour Energy. The licence will help boost the drive to reach net zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050, the authority said. The licence will cover an area in the Southern North Sea off the coast of Immingham in North East Lincolnshire.

Image: OGA
Image: OGA

Harbour’s proposal is to reuse the depleted Rotliegend gas fields, Viking and Victor, around 140km from the Lincolnshire coast to securely store the CO2 in deep geological formations circa 9000ft below seabed, and potentially use the Bunter Formation aquifer which could offer additional options to increase the future storage capacity of the project.

The V Net Zero development concept plans to transport CO2 along a newly-constructed pipeline from Immingham to Theddlethorpe, and will reuse the existing 120km LOGGS pipeline to transport the CO2 to the Viking Fields. First injection is targeted for Q4 2026.

Initial injection rates are planned to rise to 3.6 million tonnes per year (Mtpa) which will rise to 11 Mtpa by 2030, the Government’s 10 Point Plan ambition for CCUS (carbon capture, usage and storage) is to reach 10 Mtpa by 2030.

An average car creates approximately 2.06 tonnes of CO2 a year; therefore 11 Mt CO2e per annum would amount to removing 5.3 million cars off the road. For context, in 2019 there were 31.9 million licensed cars in the UK.

The licence requires Harbour to show progress by hitting a number of milestones along the way, including reprocessing legacy 3D seismic data. The expectation is that the overall project – if it goes into operation – will show that carbon storage activity is ramping up in line with the expectations laid out in the Prime Minister’s Ten Point plan and the Climate Change Committee’s Sixth Carbon Budget and that the UK energy transition to net zero is gathering momentum, the OGA said.

It is important that industry meets its targets in reducing greenhouse gas emissions in all operations and Harbour is expected to comply with the OGA Strategy, which makes net zero considerations a central obligation, the authority added.

Dr Andy Samuel, OGA Chief Executive, said: “The OGA is very pleased to award this licence for a project that should make a significant contribution towards the net zero target. The Energy Integration work that the OGA has been leading shows quite clearly that carbon storage, alongside hydrogen and renewables, can play a crucial part in tackling the climate emergency.

“We know that time is short and real action must be taken rapidly. We will work closely with Harbour to ensure that milestones on this project are met, as we do with other projects across the North Sea.”

Energy and Climate Change Minister Greg Hands said: “As set out in the Prime Minister’s Ten Point Plan, Carbon Capture Usage and Storage could be crucial in helping the UK to reduce emissions. That’s why we are investing £1 billion to help the UK become a world-leader in developing the technology to capture and store harmful carbon emissions. This licence awarded to Harbour Energy is another important contribution in making this a reality.”

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