Alternative power sources might cut emissions on offshore oil and gas platforms by up to 87 percent, and cost-effectively at that.
This is according to the winners of a Platform Electrification competition launched in September 2021 by what was then called the Oil and Gas Authority (The OGA). The OGA has recently changed its name to the North Sea Transition Authority.
NSTA on Thursday released the full project reports of the three Electrification Competition winners: Orcadian Energy and Partners; Ørsted, Neptune Energy and Goal 7; and Katoni Engineering.
The contest was funded by £1m provided by the UK Government as part of the North Sea Transition Deal (NSTD) signed by the UK Government and the oil and gas industry in 2021. Within the NSTD, the oil and gas industry has committed to reducing offshore emissions by 50% in 2030, a 2-3 MtCO2 per year reduction.
"The Electrification Competition was intended to bring innovative solutions for electrification by supporting the work of oil and gas companies, wind power developers and leading technology suppliers. The three winning studies all make strong arguments in favor of cross-industry synergies, with electrification projects collectively opening up 2-4 gigawatts of wind power opportunity across the UKCS," NSTA said.
"The studies – by Orcadian Energy and Partners, Orsted and Neptune Energy, and Katoni Engineering – demonstrated concepts which do not require power from shore, instead creating standalone power systems using renewable power, which can be easily complemented by power cables from onshore," NSTA said.
According to NSTA, the solutions suggest emissions reductions of 78-87% are achievable, "and highlight the importance of robust, yet cost-effective power distribution systems offshore."
"These power distribution facilities (or micro-grids) integrate different power sources with multiple offshore users, ensuring power continuity whilst minimising cost of modifications on the receiving platforms, hence reducing electrification costs," the offshore regulator said.
"The combined projects cover the building blocks of any offshore electrification scheme (power sources, transmission, distribution and platform modifications) and elements from each can be combined to assist electrification projects across the UKCS," NSTA said.
Scott Robertson, NSTA Director of Operations, said: "Platform electrification is a vital part of cutting emissions in the North Sea and reaching net zero. Each of these projects contains useful, innovative thinking and we expect industry to look at these ideas, and others, as electrification projects start to become reality in the next few years.”
The winning projects
Orcadian Energy and Partners (Crondall, Enertechnos, NSMP, Petrofac and Wärtsilä): Microgrid electrification concept
The Orcadian-led study has designed standardized off-grid floating power distribution hubs which receive renewable power from floating offshore wind farms and combine that power with low-emission back-up power generation to deliver a low-emission continuous power supply to offshore oil and gas installations.
Each power distribution hub is placed close to the receiving installations to minimize the length of the power distribution cables. The solution is phased and scalable, and applicable across multiple regions of the UKCS.
Under certain circumstances, ‘all-in’ project costs can be up to 26% lower than comparable power from shore electrification.
Ørsted, Neptune Energy and Goal 7: Project Neos - electrification of offshore oil and gas assets using renewable offshore wind energy
This pre-Front End Engineering Design (pre-FEED) study investigated the technical and commercial aspects of an electrical connection between an Offshore Wind Farm (OWF) and an offshore Oil and Gas (O&G) installation without connection from shore.
Two technical concepts were investigated, using subsea cables and considering concept feasibility in terms of power availability and reliability. Project Neos further considered the design modifications which would be required at the O&G installation and evidenced the need to create an offshore microgrid, including back up generation, energy storage and advanced control to stabilize the switch from renewable power to back-up power generation.
The study has demonstrated the levels of technical feasibility and which drivers can make projects more cost-effective, such as maximum CAPEX related to infrastructure upgrades, and minimum remaining field life. Sensitivities to gas, electricity and carbon prices were also investigated.
Katoni Engineering: An optimized method for interfacing distributed sources of renewable generation with existing offshore oil and gas installations requiring secure sources of low emissions power
The Katoni study has designed an optimized offshore electricity distribution network that minimizes the cost of brownfield platform modifications by delivering power at, or as close to, current platform power voltages as possible. This network design results in a circa 75% reduction of modification costs vs earlier assumptions.
The network includes back-up power generation located on a centralized floating electrical distribution hub to ensure power continuity in this off-grid electrical network design. The power distribution network was designed using a power clustering methodology may include electrification of circa 20 platforms within a significant portion of the Central North Sea area.