London-based supermajor BP and Norwegian energy giant Equinor have been awarded two new carbon storage licences in the UK.

BP and Equinor are partners in the Northern Endurance Partnership (NEP), part of the East Coast Cluster scheme, which is developing infrastructure for storing carbon dioxide emitted from big clusters of industry on the east coast of England.

The two new licences cover four separate storage sites about 70 kilometres off the coast of Humberside and have appraisal terms of eight years, the North Sea Transition Authority (NSTA) said on Thursday.

Work programmes have been agreed that require the licensees to show progress in carrying out seismic surveys and drilling wells to acquire data before they apply for a storage permit.   

Combined with the existing licence granted for the Endurance carbon store, the new sites could eventually contribute to the storage of up to 23 million tonnes per annum of CO2 around 1400 metres beneath the seabed, the regulator said.

The NSTA is now stewarding six carbon storage licences on the UK continental shelf, having awarded five since 2018 and agreed a transfer of a sixth.   

Current estimates indicate that injection from a carbon storage project could come as soon as 2025 given progress already seen in the HyNet, East Coast Cluster and V Net Zero Humber Cluster projects.