The Oil and Gas Authority (OGA) in the UK is examining options – including onshore, offshore wind and floating wind – as ways to electrify offshore oil and gas platforms
On 20 August 2020, the authority hosted the first of a series of workshops on offshore power generation integration intended to bring the oil and gas industry and windfarm power industry together to seek practical ways of cutting greenhouse gas emissions.
Operators and representatives of the power generation, oil and gas, and windfarm sectors discussed the feasibility of projects such as platform electrification, power supply from windfarms and transmission infrastructure, sharing and identifying technical issues which need to be resolved for projects to go forward.
This workshop also included Crown Estate Scotland as a key stakeholder in the regulatory and consent process in future development. It is planned to follow through with further workshop sessions to include potential investors, including infrastructure operators, in transmission concepts and windfarms as well as supply chain companies.
The workshop builds on the OGA’s recent publication of its UKCS Energy Integration report and Annexes which established that the integration of offshore energy systems including oil and gas, renewables, hydrogen and carbon capture and storage could contribute to deliver around 30% of the UK’s total carbon reduction requirements needed to meet the 2050 net zero target.
The same work also looked specifically at oil and gas platform electrification and noted that it is both essential for cutting oil and gas sector production emissions in the near term and critical to preserving the industry’s social licence to operate.
It calculated that electrification could abate UKCS oil and gas operational emissions by 2-3MtCO2 per annum by 2030, which is the equivalent of reducing 20% of today’s production emissions, rising to 40% by 2030.
To achieve this vision, the industry should deliver at least two operational electrification projects by the mid-2020s. Among the most significant opportunities are windpower supply and transmission links with the mainland enabling electrification of new oil and gas projects west of Shetland; the electrification of oil and gas facilities in the Outer Moray Firth by connection to windpower developments in the area, and ScotWind Leasing opportunities; and electrification of central North Sea platforms at a greater distance offshore using cross-border power supply (such as from Norway) or floating wind. There are also several cross-industry opportunities in the southern North Sea, due to closer proximity between windfarms and oil and gas operations, and Windfarm licence Round 4 as future expansion.
The Energy Integration project work also identified potential synergies between the oil and gas and renewables industries which would be critical for the economic delivery of electrification opportunities. Among the potential synergies are access to lower-cost electricity directly from offshore windfarms, creating commercial opportunity for wind developers to expand; sharing of investment in transmission infrastructure between oil and gas and renewables (and potentially also with interconnector projects); reusing oil and gas infrastructure (platforms for electricity transmission equipment, and onshore terminals as onshore bases); and gas-to-wire to potentially help balancing electricity supply and increase cables utilisation.
OGA director of operations Scott Robertson said, “Platform electrification is a vital part of the industry’s contribution towards the net zero by 2050 target and an important deliverable to help the oil and gas sector maintain its social licence to operate. It is already a tried and tested technology, readily deployed in the Norwegian sector.
“We are very pleased to see real engagement on this from operators, and collaboration with the power sector and investors and are keen to see activity move at pace.
“The OGA is doing a number of things to support increased pace, including facilitating introductions to develop a critical mass of participants and collaboration across oil/ gas, wind and power sectors and identifying barriers where the OGA can play a role in finding enablers.”
The UK offshore oil and gas industry has committed to halving operational emissions in the next decade and becoming a net zero emissions basin by 2050.
Riviera held a series of webinars on offshore wind in June. These are available to view in our webinar library