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NSTA expected to take on role of offshore H2 transport and storage regulator

The North Sea Transition Authority (NSTA) is expected to take on the role of offshore H2 transport and storage regulator following the conclusion of a consultation on the proposal. The move is intended to support the industry by enabling pioneering projects to obtain the necessary licenses and consents and move quickly into operation.

Once the legislation comes into effect, it will mean that:

  • The NSTA will become the licensing/consenting authority for offshore H2 pipelines bringing these under similar arrangements currently used for oil and gas pipelines
  • The NSTA will also become the licensing/consenting authority for offshore H2 storage, which will enable the NSTA to issue H2 storage licenses
  • The NSTA will become a consultee to OPRED on decommissioning and repurposing for both offshore H2 transport and storage
  • OPRED will become the decommissioning and environmental regulator for offshore H2 transport and storage.

The move to put H2 regulation in place follows the publication of the UK H2 Strategy in 2021, which emphasized the role that H2 can play in the drive to reach net zero.

The government laid out its ambition for 10 GW of low-carbon H2 production capacity to be available for use across the economy by 2030 in its British Energy Security Strategy, published in April 2022.

The UK H2 Strategy estimated that 5 GW of low-carbon H2 production could produce H2 equivalent to the amount of gas consumed by over 3-MM/yr households in the UK. This new, low-carbon H2 could help provide cleaner energy to power our economy and our everyday lives – from cookers to power plants, to the heat in our homes. 

Hedvig Ljungerud, NSTA Director of Strategy, said, “This decision highlights the importance of H2 in a net-zero future and further cements the NSTA’s role in driving forward the energy transition. We fully appreciate the need for an integrated energy basin and firmly believe we are best placed to deliver it. It is also vital for the development of the wider H2 economy, which the NSTA will support alongside our ongoing work in carbon storage and fossil fuels."