OSLO, March 31 (Reuters) - Norway said it has awarded two licences to explore for carbon dioxide (CO2) storage sites in the North Sea - one to Aker BP and a partner, and another to Germany's Wintershall Dea (WINT.UL) and its partner.
The North Sea has seen a rush to develop offshore CO2 storage sites over the past few years, supported by rising emission costs in Europe and as businesses seek to meet climate goals.
It is the second time that Wintershall Dea has been awarded a CO2 storage licence in Norway, while it is the first licence for Norway's second-largest listed oil and gas firm Aker BP.
"We expect CCS to play a key role in the transition to a low-carbon energy future, and the Norwegian continental shelf holds significant potential for carbon storage," Aker BP CEO Karl Johnny Hersvik said in a statement.
Aker BP, which has a 60% stake in the licence called Poseidon, said the site could store more than 5 million tonnes of CO2 per year under the seabed.
The plan is to inject CO2 captured from multiple industrial sites in northwest Europe, including from Austrian plastics group Borealis (BESGR.UL). Borealis is majority owned by Austria's OMV , which will have a 40% stake in the licence.
Wintershall Dea has partnered with Altera Infrastructure Group through its subsidiary Stella Maris CCS AS to explore for another CO2 storage site in the North Sea.
"This second licence award in Norway supports our ambitious target to build a global carbon management portfolio that potentially can abate 20 to 30 million tonnes of CO2 per year by 2040," Wintershall Dea said.
Each firm will each hold 50% of the license called Havstjerne. The site could have an estimated annual storage capacity of 7 million tonnes of CO2.
The partnership has sounded out groups of industrial emitters, including in the Baltics, the Netherlands, Portugal, and Spain, that could potentially use the planned CO2 storage, Wintershall Dea added in a statement.
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