The United Kingdom’s North Sea Transition Authority (NSTA), the body that regulates and influences the UK oil, gas, and carbon storage industries and helps drive economic production and energy transition has launched a consultation round.
Launched on January 18, and running until March 1, 2023, the NSTA consultation round is seeking views from the UK oil and gas and carbon storage industries on information and sample-related matters in Carbon Dioxide Appraisal and Storage and Petroleum Licences, and the principle of new data powers in support of energy security and the transition to net zero.
At present, the NSTA has powers to require petroleum licensees to retain and report information related to their oil and gas projects and operations, for example, well data, which the NSTA can disclose after a period of confidentiality.
The NSTA has opened this consultation to gather feedback on whether it should be given similar data retention, reporting, and disclosure powers with respect to carbon storage licensees’ activities.
The consultation also covers the principle of requiring the appointment of Information and Samples Coordinators, requiring information and sample plans for carbon storage licenses (similar to those for petroleum licenses), and also the principle of the NSTA gaining a general information gathering power.
The authority notes that retaining, reporting, and disclosing information and samples created or acquired in pursuit of license activity is widely regarded as valuable by the petroleum and carbon storage industries.
The Energy Act 2008 established a licensing framework for the storage of carbon dioxide, putting in place necessary requirements and controls for carbon storage, with the NSTA established as the carbon storage licensing authority.
The government’s ambitions for carbon storage have significantly increased since the Energy Act 2008 was introduced. New information and sample disclosure powers are now needed to ensure that the NSTA can better support the UK government’s commitment to reach net zero emissions by 2050 and a home-grown carbon storage industry.
NSTA argues that disclosure of carbon storage information and samples after a predefined confidentiality period will be advantageous to the carbon storage and petroleum industries and all those with an interest in UKCS subsurface data. Such disclosure will function as a common body of information and samples that will allow all parties in those industries to be able to use information and samples collected by others to progress the industry quicker than it would without the sharing of information and samples. Simply put, public access to information and samples acquired in pursuit of petroleum or CS licenses is of mutual benefit to both types of licensee and also of value to other users of the UKCS, and as such the obligations should be comparable.
The NSTA is also interested to understand whether there are additional types of information and samples that should be sought by the NSTA to be retained, reported, and subsequently disclosed under CS licenses, in particular any data types that are not currently retained, reported, and disclosed under petroleum licenses.
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