Lundin Energy has put its money where its mouth is, chartering battery-hybrid supply vessels and supporting development of next-generation power and propulsion technology
For an oil company, aiming for carbon-neutral operations by 2025 is a challenging goal, but Lundin Energy hopes to achieve that objective with a raft of sustainability measures, among them the electrification of platforms, renewable energy investments in Finland and Norway, carbon footprint mapping and offsetting all air travel. The Norwegian independent oil company has also invested significantly in a number of R&D initiatives.
But that’s not all. Like any offshore oil and gas operator, Lundin also charters a fleet of offshore support vessels, and has committed to using hybrid vessels with batteries, LNG as a fuel and hook-up to shore power whenever possible.
As Lundin Energy Norway HSEQ director Jan Vidar Markmanrud told OSJ, with the recent addition of two more supply vessels to the fleet that supports its offshore activity, all five of the vessels it currently has on long-term contracts are ‘hybridised’ with batteries and can be connected to shore power, reducing the fleet’s CO2 emissions by up to 20%.
“In addition to the Edvard Grieg production platform, we have the West Bollsta and Rowan Viking drilling rigs on assignment for us on the Norwegian Continental Shelf (NCS),” Mr Markmanrud explained. “Their activity is supported by five vessels, all of which will now have battery packs that can provide electricity and reduce CO2 emissions.
“All of the vessels are also equipped to connect to shore power, where this is available. This yields a further reduction in greenhouse gas emissions compared to conventional diesel-powered vessels.
“We are not aware of any other operator with a fleet that is 100% hybridised and equipped for shore power,” Mr Markmanrud said, “so we believe that our fleet is the cleanest on the Norwegian Shelf right now, although this is obviously an area where we hope for tough competition from other operators.”
While all five vessels are hybridised, four of them can also run on LNG. This further helps to reduce CO2 by 10%, but, importantly, using LNG significantly reduces NOx emissions from the vessels, by around 80%. NOx-emissions have been shown to adversely affect asthma sufferers in heavily populated areas in Norway and are one of the main contributors to reduced air quality in Norwegian cities.
The vessels, Island Offshore’s Island Contender and Olympic Subsea’s Olympic Energy – which was ‘hybridised’ in 2016 – are supporting Rowan Viking in the North Sea. Prior to this, Lundin contracted Siem Symphony – which was due to be fitted with batteries as this was being written – and Island Crusader, an LNG battery hybrid UT 776 CDG PSV, as support vessels for the drilling rig West Bollsta, which is working in the North Sea. Island Commander, a battery-hybrid UT 776 CD, has been chartered to support production from the Edvard Grieg platform.
“This is an important – and necessary – step in reducing supply chain emissions”
“Lundin Energy Norway’s objective is to contribute toward modernising the offshore vessel fleet as a whole,” said Mr Markmanrud. “This is an important – and necessary – step in reducing our supply chain emissions, towards our ultimate goal to becoming carbon-neutral across our operations by 2025.
“We are doing this by actively selecting vessels with new technology and low emissions. In several cases, we have also contributed to the installation of new technology and the cost of doing so is reflected in the rates we pay for the vessels.”
As Mr Markmanrud and Island Offshore managing director Tommy Walaunet explained, the 875-896 kWh battery packs on the vessels can be used for a wide range of operations, from when the ships are in dynamic positioning mode to when they are in transit. “Preliminary results from DP operation indicate fuel and emission reductions of 12-14%, but the potential is even higher if operation and engine use is optimised,” Mr Walaunet explained, “although this will require more emphasis on skills building.”
When in transit, the hybrid system will provide reserve power and reduce intermittent load increases – known as ‘peak shaving’ – reducing fuel consumption and emissions at sea. Mr Markmanrud also highlighted the fact that being able to run the vessels on shore power when in port – rather than use diesels to generate power – can significantly reduce emissions on land and greatly enhance the quality of life for those living in the immediate area.
Asked about the availability of shore power at the ports the vessels use, Mr Walaunet said there was good capability at Stavanger and Bergen and at a growing number of ports and offshore supply bases. He explained that the company’s experience of bunkering with LNG and the logistics of doing so has been positive although, as he also noted, the economic benefits of using LNG depend heavily on the price. LNG is a commodity, and like all commodities the price varies, as does the price of LNG delivered onboard.
However, as Mr Walaunet also explained, Island Offshore’s adoption of fuel- and emissions-reducing technology doesn’t end with battery hybrids and LNG. “We are also investigating several other technologies,” he told OSJ. “These range from hull and propeller cleaning to the use of biofuels and, in the longer term, the use of fuel cells.”
Mr Walaunet said Island Offshore believes there are significant potential benefits to be obtained from blending biofuel into conventional fuel and highlighted tests that engine-builders have conducted addressing the technical challenges of doing so. It would be possible to start using biofuels blended into conventional fuels right away, he suggested, but for the time being this would be more expensive than using conventional fuel alone.
Among other advantages, biofuels have very low sulphur levels and low CO2 emissions. Another advantage of using biofuels on an OSV would be that, compared to larger vessels – which consume much larger amounts of fuel – the requirements would be more manageable, especially if the fuel is used in blending.
Mr Walaunet said the company is looking at blending 20% biofuel into the fuels its vessels use, although it has not yet taken a decision to press ahead with their use. “We see biofuels and other technology as bridging options until technology such as fuel cells is further developed,” he explained.
“Using LNG reduces NOx emissions by around 80%”
Lundin is also supporting a number of other research initiatives, among them the development, with CMR Prototech and partners Odfjell and Wärtsilä, of a multi-fuel fuel cell that could operate on hydrogen and ammonia. In due course it is expected to be tested with everything from hydrogen and ammonia to natural gas and biogas. It will be tested at the Sustainable Energy Catapult Centre in Stord in Norway before installation on a chemical tanker operated by Odfjell. The technology is potentially applicable to a wide range of vessels.
Tests have shown that such a fuel cell could provide very significant reductions in CO2 emissions and emission-free operation over long distances. That would mean it could be used by deep-sea vessels and, of course, OSVs. Because it is designed to be capable of operating on a range of different fuels, it will have a high level of built-in flexibility, whichever fuel type emerges as the most cost competitive and environmentally efficient in the years ahead.