NSTA Consultation on Carbon Storage Data

United Kingdom

In 2023, the UK’s first carbon storage licensing round led to the award of 21 offshore carbon storage licences. A handful of licenses had been awarded prior to the licensing round, so that there are now a total of 27 such licences in place. Some of these licences have been incorporated in the four Track 1 and Track 2 carbon capture usage and storage clusters, which are intended to escalate industry expansion and promote start-up without delay. By 2030, it is projected that these four clusters will contribute towards a total of 20-30 million tonnes of CO₂ per year (MtPA) being captured and stored.

Further information on the Government’s support for the carbon storage industry can be found in their “Carbon Capture Usage and Storage” plan[1] of December 2023, in which they promised to invest up to £20 billion.

NSTA powers regarding information and samples

Work is also in progress to put in place the regulatory regime to govern this new industry. The NSTA has been appointed as the offshore carbon dioxide storage regulator and has various powers under the Energy Act 2023 (the “2023 Act”) to require information and samples to be provided to them (by way of a section 112 notice), in accordance with the NSTA’s functions under the Energy Act 2008 (storage of carbon dioxide)[2]. Such information or samples cannot be disclosed by the NSTA or a subsequent holder unless it falls under an exception[3]. The 2023 Act includes provision for the Secretary of State to make regulations allowing for the public disclosure of “protected material” relating to carbon storage to be made by the NSTA at a time as defined in such regulations (following consideration by the Secretary of State of various required as set out in the 2023 Act).[4]

In order to inform the preparation of such proposed regulations, on 14 February 2024, the NSTA launched its “Consultation on proposed regulations for disclosure of carbon storage information and samples[5]. The consultation can be found here. It seeks views as to what information pertaining to offshore carbon capture and storage licences should be made publicly available and when that should happen. The expectation is that will inform the regulations that will then be implemented to determine the precise scope of those arrangements.

Comparison with Oil and Gas Information Provision and Storage requirements

It is clear from the consultation document that the NSTA has in mind a regime which closely mirrors the arrangements in place regarding the retention and disclosure of information and date pertaining to the offshore oil & gas industry. The Energy Act 2016 (the “2016 Act”) contains similar powers for the NSTA to obtain particular petroleum related information and samples in the course of its regulatory work, with a similar general prohibition on disclosure and provision for regulations to be introduced regarding the retention[6] and disclosure to the NSTA, and publication of petroleum related information and samples, gathered in connection with work under offshore oil & gas licences. The types of petroleum related information that can be disclosed to the public and timelines for such disclosure of oil & gas information are set out in the Oil and Gas (Offshore Petroleum) (Disclosure of Protected Material after Specified Period) Regulations 2018 (the “2018 Regulations”).

Details of the consultation proposals

The consultation seeks views as to the types of information that ought to be communicated to the NSTA and when it should be made publicly available, taking into account that the information collected could be utilised for planning purposes and future decision making. Taking a similar approach to that taken by the 2018 Regulations, the consultation proposes including details of timelines for each type of information (including, for example, well information; well samples; geophysical survey information; and injection information), the NSTA’s consultation document sets out specific proposals for (i) what information and samples ought to be able to be disclosed by the NSTA (or a subsequent holder), and (ii) the time period after a particular “trigger point” (according to the information or sample) where the NSTA subsequently suggests that it could, at its discretion, publish or make publicly accessible the information and samples under the regulations.

A summary table of the proposals can be found in Annex A of the consultation (similar to the tables found in the NSTA’s guidance on reporting and disclosure of information and samples under the 2016 Act and 2018 Regulations[7]). The NSTA consider the proposals to be an appropriate balance of the factors set out in the 2023 Act that the Secretary of State must consider for the disclosure of each category of information and sample.

Sharing the National Data Repository

The National Data Repository (“NDR”)[8] is the publicly accessible data storage system established by the NSTA (from subscription based industry predecessor systems) for the oil and gas industry. To date, it contains more than one petabyte of publicly accessible data obtained from more than 60 years of business. Material stored on the NDR can be accessed by licensees, the NSTA and the general public, either because they are distinctly permitted to do so, they have a right to do as regulator, or they can do so once the information is publicly available. Data is also contained on the NSTA’s Date and Insights pages[9]. It forms part of the NSTA’s Wider Digital Energy Platform.

The NSTA reports that those working in carbon storage, hydrogen and offshore wind have been increasingly using the NDR, so that the NSTA anticipates that the inclusion of carbon storage data on the NDR will be a helpful addition to this resource. This process of sharing data is expected to be reflected in the provision of carbon storage licence information.

The NSTA’s hope is that the availability of such data will be helpful for those who are new to the carbon storage industry and assist in securing the UK as an international leader in this area.

The consultation will close on 12 April 2024.

Responses to the consultation can be submitted via email to [email protected] or by post to the following address:

NSTA CS Data Disclosure Consultation

North Sea Transition Authority

3rd Floor

1 Marischal Square

Broad Street


AB10 1BL


[1] Carbon Capture, Usage and Storage (publishing.service.gov.uk).

[2] Energy Act 2008, Ch 3, Pt 1.

[3] Energy Act 2023, s 113.

[4] Energy Act 2023, Sch 7, para 4.

[5] Consultation on proposed regulations for disclosure of carbon storage information and samples (nstauthority.co.uk).

[6] Oil and Gas Authority (Offshore Petroleum)(Retention of Information and Samples) Regulations 2018.  NB The 2023 Act envisages similar regulations to be introduced regarding offshore carbon storage licences, but those have yet to be published and are not the subject of the NSTA’s recent consultation.

[7] guidance-on-reporting-disclosure-august-2021-final.pdf

[8] UK National Data Repository (nstauthority.co.uk)

[9] Data and insights (nstauthority.co.uk).