North Sea Transition Authority – Carbon storage data powers consultation response

United Kingdom

The North Sea Transition Authority (“NSTA”) has published a response to its consultation on new carbon storage data powers. The consultation, which ran from 18 January 2023 until 1 March 2023, sought views on whether information and sample retention and reporting requirements should exist for licensees of carbon dioxide appraisal and storage licences (“CS Licences”). The NSTA already has similar data retention, reporting and disclosure powers in place for petroleum licensees.

The NSTA received 11 responses to its consultation, which it says were overwhelmingly supportive of its proposals. Consequently, it has already proposed amendments be made to the Energy Bill introducing the carbon storage data powers outlined in the consultation. These amendments are expected to be tabled by the Department for Energy Security and Net Zero during the House of Commons committee stage of the Energy Bill debates. Providing Parliamentary approval is given, and the amendments are made, the NSTA then intends to use their new powers to seek secondary legislation to set out the data retention, reporting and disclosure requirements for licensees of CS Licences.

The proposed NSTA powers in relation to CS Licences include proposed arrangements which will be very familiar for those operating in the UK offshore oil & gas industry under petroleum licences, namely:

  • similar data gathering powers are applied to CS Licences as are currently in place for petroleum licences;
  • information and samples from carbon storage activities that are reported to the NSTA will be retained, reported and eventually disclosed following a period of confidentiality;
  • there will be new requirements for Information and Samples Plans (“ISPs”) for carbon storage licence events and Information and Samples Coordinators for CS Licences; and
  • Exploration Operator and Storage Operator changes, as well as a change of control, will require an ISP for CS Licences.

The proposed NSTA powers in relation to petroleum licences include ISPs being required for:

  • a subarea operator change, and
  • a change of control.

The full NSTA response to the consultation, which was published on 6 April 2023, is available here. The NSTA received responses from industry bodies, other government organisations, current and potential carbon storage licensees and service companies, and an NGO. A full list of the respondents can be found at Annex 1.

An overview of the consultation and other recent key developments can be found in our NSTA Update, which is available here.