ExxonMobil triumphs in UK’s first carbon storage licencing round

ExxonMobil’s ‘low carbon solutions’ division garnered four licences to explore potential subterranean sites for storing captured CO2 emissions beneath the UK North Sea. Collaboration efforts will see ExxonMobil partnering with Shell for three of the licences and with Neptune Energy for the fourth.

The North Sea Transition Authority (NSTA), the UK regulatory body, awarded these licences, situated off the eastern coast of England, in areas where ExxonMobil has a rich history of oil and gas resource development. Pending successful assessments, ExxonMobil plans to seek permission from the UK government to proceed with these carbon storage initiatives, aligning with the UK’s goal of storing more than 50 million metric tons of carbon annually by 2050.

CCS is one of the few proven solutions that can significantly reduce CO2 emissions from industrial sectors, including the energy industry.

As Stuart Payne, chief executive of the NSTA, said in announcing the awards: “Carbon storage will play a crucial role in the energy transition, storing carbon dioxide deep under the seabed and playing a key role in hydrogen production and energy hubs.”

Michael Foley, ExxonMobil’s UK Low Carbon Solutions business lead said: “These awards will allow us to leverage our unique CCS, subsurface and project management expertise to help the UK achieve its net-zero ambitions.”

According to the NSTA, the areas included in the licencing round cover about 12,000 square kilometres (4,630 square miles) and could store up to 30 million metric tons of CO2 per year by 2030, equal to about 10% of the UK’s emissions in 2021. The potential storage areas are a mix of depleted oil and gas reservoirs and saline aquifers.

ExxonMobil is already a global leader in CCS, and is scaling up the technology to help accelerate society’s path to net zero. At the U.S. Gulf Coast, the total CO2 that it agreed to store for third-party customers has reached 5 million metric tons per year, roughly equivalent to replacing about 2 million gasoline-powered cars with electric vehicles.

ExxonMobil is investing $17 billion in lower emission initiatives from 2022 to 2027, including its efforts to scale up CCS to help reduce emissions for third parties and for our own operations.

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