Batteries should be on every offshore vessel owners’ shopping list.
More than five years after the first OSV with plug-in battery-hybrid technology entered the offshore market, a tipping point has been reached in the offshore energy sector – both in traditional oil and gas and offshore renewables. More and more vessels are being refit with energy storage systems for diesel-electric hybrid propulsion.
As DNV GL segment director, OSV and special ships Arnstein Eknes noted at Riviera Maritime’s Offshore Support Journal Conference, Middle East: “The degree of hybridisation is increasing [and] most of the battery systems and installations on offshore vessels are conversions. This is a trend that will continue and strengthen in the years ahead.”
There are 48 offshore supply vessels with energy storage technology, and another 15 under construction, according to DNV GL data.
Some OSV owners are using the technology as a differentiator in a challenging market, while others have invested in electrification as a means of reducing emissions and saving fuel in an effort to land a lucrative contract from a charterer.
If an OSV owner wants to operate under a charter with Norwegian energy major Equinor on the Norwegian continental shelf (NCS), its vessels need to feature energy storage. Equinor reports that all the vessels it employs on long-term contracts on the NCS – about 20 vessels – have, or will have, a battery and a shore-power system within 2021.
Other oil and gas and renewable energy companies – such as Anglo-Dutch energy major Shell and independent German oil company Wintershall Dea – are increasingly stipulating batteries or showing a preference for such technology in their tenders. With plans to have net zero emissions from operations by 2030, Wintershall Dea is looking to OSV owners to help it wring CO2 and greenhouse gas emissions (GHG) out of its marine logistics supply chain. Right now, Wintershall Dea’s production activities generate about 2.5M metric tonnes of CO2 equivalents annually.
However, by employing Norway-based Eidesvik Offshore’s LNG-fuelled, battery-hybrid Viking Princess, Wintershall Dea anticipates cutting 2,400 tonnes of CO2 equivalent emissions from its NCS operations in 2021.
“Some OSV owners are using the technology as a differentiator in a challenging market”
Supported by government policies and funding mechanisms, Norwegian OSV owners have been quick to pick up the environmental gauntlet, adopting electrification, LNG and other alternative fuels and even combining technologies for additional GHG and CO2 reductions.
Elsewhere, publicly listed and privately held American OSV owners have been keeping pace with the Norwegians in the ‘battery arms race’. American and Norwegian owners represent the two largest OSV shipowning groups in the world.
Louisiana-based Harvey Gulf International Marine (HGIM) is one of the forward-leaning American OSV owners that have begun to ‘layer’ emission reduction technologies, creating a fleet of tri-fuel vessels. Much like Viking Princess and other Eidesvik vessels, HGIM’s platform supply vessels combine batteries and LNG in hybrid electric-LNG-fuelled OSVs, yielding impressive emissions reductions of 40% or more. The flexibility of energy storage helps extend the life of the asset, allowing it to meet future decarbonisation targets in the decade ahead.
Added benefits of batteries include reduced wear and tear on engines and increased safety and responsiveness in manoeuvring and dynamic positioning operations.
These frontrunning OSV owners not only need to be applauded for their efforts, but also supported by charterers, investors and government policies that financially reward them. OSV owners should not have to bear the burden of decarbonisation alone. This is a time for all stakeholders in the offshore energy market to work together to reduce CO2 and GHG emissions. Decarbonisation is about human health, the health of the ocean and the planet we all live on – and that is something we should all get behind.