Spirit Energy is planning to convert its depleted South Morecambe and North Morecambe gas fields in the Irish sea, and Barrow Terminals on the Irish Sea coast, into a carbon storage cluster.

The carbon storage cluster is planned to be located near the Port of Barrow in Cumbria to enable the transportation of CO₂ by ship. It will also benefit industrial sites lacking a direct connection to a CO₂ pipeline.

The firm, which is a joint venture between Centrica and Stadtwerke München, expects the cluster to store up to one gigaton of CO₂. This equates to nearly three years’ worth of current CO₂ emissions in the country.

The new multi-billion-pound project is expected to allow CO₂ emission storage for a longer term from emitters within carbon-intensive sectors, including the North West, South Wales, and the Solent.

It is expected to be one of the UK’s biggest carbon storage and hydrogen production clusters.

Spirit Energy CEO Neil McCulloch said: “Our project will introduce cost-effective decarbonisation to businesses all over the UK, with a multi-billion-pound facility, which means that a connection to a CO₂ export pipeline is no longer necessary to access carbon storage.

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“Our new cluster will provide a solution for the UK’s industrial heartlands to reduce their carbon emissions while also injecting significant green investment into Cumbria and the North West of England, where we have a proud history of working closely with the community and supporting local jobs and enterprise.”

Expected to support the UK’s net-zero ambitions, the project will be subject to licence approval from the North Sea Transition Authority and other regulatory approvals.

Cumbria Local Enterprise Partnership chief executive Jo Lappin said: “Major businesses like Spirit Energy are backing Cumbria and channelling billions into our local economy.

“This new cluster will bring immense benefits to Cumbria, not only does it promise to create thousands of local jobs, it also has the potential to attract further international investment as the carbon storage cluster develops.”