Is it possible to operate an offshore oil and gas production platform with renewable energy, even when connecting to the grid isn’t possible? A new study suggests the answer may be yes.
The innovative O/G Decarb project is a theoretical feasibility study. Over the last two years, the project group has evaluated whether wind and hydroelectric power on a floating foundation, with optional hydrogen integration, may be able to reduce CO2 emissions from offshore oil and gas production. In other words, the concept has yet to be tested physically or technically.
Energy Cluster Denmark has facilitated the study with a project group comprising Floating Power Plant, the DHRTC Centre for Oil and Gas at DTU, Hydrogen Valley, DTU Wind Energy, and TechnipFMC. Total E&P Denmark has also supported the project with offshore operations data from the Harald Field.
The ongoing feasibility study has concluded that floating wind and hydroelectric technology clearly has the potential to reduce emissions from offshore oil and gas activities, though commercial potential and scalability in the Danish portion of the North Sea is limited, due to the particular conditions of Danish operations: mature fields and shallow water depth, combined with limited wave and wind energy compared to other locations.
This feasibility study has illustrated three concepts and business cases designed to reduce the carbon footprint associated with the offshore production of oil and gas.
All things considered, the results are quite interesting for the project’s participants:
“The O/G Decarb study has demonstrated an opportunity, but also highlighted some of the technical and economic challenges of electrification. As far as operations in Denmark go, the concept is of limited potential. Innovative concepts like this one are interesting to us, and we want to continue to study electrification scenarios for DUC installations in our efforts to reduce emissions,” says Kenneth Gaardboe Nielsen, a senior facilities engineer at Total E&P Denmark.
Morten Jeppesen, director of the Danish Hydrocarbon Research and Technology Centre (DHRTC), also sees the electrification of oil and gas production as an important task, since it offers the industry opportunities to reduce its emissions:
“Reducing CO2 emissions is difficult because the platforms are located far out in the North Sea, a long distance from existing electrical infrastructure. If we could replace the natural gas currently used to power platforms with electricity, we would be able to reduce their CO2 emissions,” he explains.
The project has been based on the combination of wind and hydroelectric technology developed by Floating Power Plant. In the configuration used in the project, the system is equipped with a 9.5 MW wind turbine, a 2 MW hydroelectric generator, a mooring system, and a delivery system integrated into a stable, floating platform that can also house the hydrogen systems.
Floating Power Plant’s Anders Køhler is delighted by the system’s potential:
“The technology works, and in areas with plenty of wind, plenty of waves, and water deeper than 50 metres, it has real potential,” he says.
“In these kinds of areas, solutions with fixed foundations are not an option currently. This solution offers a greater quantity of higher-quality power, as well as some unique features, like the option of integrating hydrogen components and other support systems.”
Because the study has demonstrated potential in the areas of power-to-X and floating wind technology, the next step for Floating Power Plant is to further refine the technology while working to overcome the technical and economic challenges identified during the study, advancing the commercial potential for this technology.
The ability to integrate hydrogen into an offshore power system is the key to ensuring a constant supply of renewable energy.
“Hydrogen makes it possible to store large quantities of energy, and to provide a stable base level of power output,” explains Jørn Lindtvedt, business manager at TechnipFMC.
“Not only that, but it also makes it possible to produce hydrogen offshore before bringing it ashore for use.”
Once the hydrogen is on land, it can also be separated from the natural gas for sale as clean, green hydrogen (for use in hydrogen-powered cars, for example).
In view of the proof of concept produced for all three goals of the project, the project’s facilitators at Energy Cluster Denmark are very happy with the process and the results alike.
“This project has delivered real innovation and new solutions. It has shown that opportunities exist to power offshore oil and gas platforms using a reliable, sustainable source of energy. It has also demonstrated that hydrogen has real potential as a storage medium, and that excess hydrogen can be sent ashore to give us greener gas,” says Glenda Napier, managing director of Energy Cluster Denmark.
The O/G Decarb innovation project (full name: Integration of hydrogen into the Danish offshore O&G sector, driven by renewable energy) has focused on three concepts and business cases linked to integrating renewable energy into Danish oil and gas production.