– Credit: Ping Petroleum
Reviving wells in the Southern North Sea, powering oil and gas platforms with wind turbines, capturing and storing CO2 and hydrogen systems, starting work on world-class offshore wind farms off the coast and consent for Sizewell C nuclear power station – the East of England is ripe with opportunity for companies ready for the challenge.
The industrialised North Sea is becoming supercharged in the name of UK energy security – so much so that a spatial planning exercise is under way to optimise the seabed for energy security and make everything fit for maximum efficiency.
Scott Robertson, operations director of the North Sea Transition Authority (NSTA), said: “It is becoming a crowded place and needs planning. Energy security and net zero is prompting activity in the SNS that would not have happened three or four years ago.
“It is exciting because we are looking at the best uses of the North Sea. Working alongside The Crown Estate and a variety of other stakeholders to fit it all in, in the interests of energy security and net zero. It is a complex challenge, but one we have risen to, and I am sure we can all meet.
“I look at this very positively with all of the different inputs helping us arrive at the right solutions to a complex situation.
“The NSTA was asked what could be done in terms of investing in the UK’s energy security over the next few years, and we are working with industry to see what can be done in the short term to optimise existing wellstock, drill infill wells, and also make production more efficient. Reopening wells that were shut is an efficient way of producing small, but worthwhile quantities of added production, which helps towards the goal of energy security.
“Companies are going back to gas wells in the SNS and looking at what they can do for these wells – using technology such as velocity strings and other recognised intervention techniques to give them
Electrification of oil and gas facilities will not be prolific in the SNS, as it is likely to be in the Central North Sea (CNS) because production life isn’t forecast to be as long. However, some of the longer-life SNS oil and gas facilities are in talks with the NTSA about powering their assets by offshore wind, especially those close to offshore wind farms, Scott said.
The Innovation and Targeted Oil and Gas (INTOG) leasing round is open for developers to apply for the rights to build offshore wind farms specifically to provide low-carbon electricity to power oil and gas installations in Scotland. It offers the opportunity to enable small scale (less than 100MW) innovation projects, including alternative outputs such as hydrogen.
“We are seeing collaborations in the CNS where four or five operators are looking at a big electrification scheme using connections to provide power from shore, removing the need for gas-fired turbines. There are also plans to incrementally tie offshore floating wind to these schemes.
“I am quite proud of this,” Scott said. “There is a need to decarbonise oil and gas production while we still need it, and this creates an opportunity to develop and implement offshore wind technology quicker, solving energy dilemmas.
“We have been working with The Crown Estate to see how we can use offshore wind technology to power offshore oil and gas facilities. We are now at a point that in late 2022 we will see some groups making significant decisions to get their already well-developed ideas turned into detailed design proposals.”
Wind will be the main power source on Ping Petroleum UK’s floating production storage and offloading (FPSO) vessel Excalibur (formerly Sevan Hummingbird) on its Avalon field. With storage capacity of 270,000 barrels of oil and capable of producing up to 30,000 barrels of oil a day, the FPSO will be retrofit with electrification capability to accommodate a dedicated floating offshore wind turbine purpose-built for Avalon’s requirement to power the entire production facility, working with floating wind company Cerulean Winds.
Excalibur’s renaming ceremony in the Port of Nigg, Scotland was safely facilitated by a lay-up team from ODE Asset Management, which has bases in Great Yarmouth and Aberdeen, appointed under the Ship Management Service agreement awarded to ODE by Ping.
Sandy Reid, managing director of ODE Asset Management, said: “As the selected contractor for Ship Management Services, we are proud to be supporting the adaptation of this facility towards an energy transition future, exemplifying how the energy sector can react and respond to changing needs.”
Scott made his first trip out to a floating offshore wind farm, Kincardine, recently, to see for himself how the facility operates and to learn more as the NSTA spends increasing time engaging with The Crown Estate, Crown Estate Scotland and OfGem about many aspects of low-carbon power, including how the National Grid works, connections and network regimes.
“There are a lot of crossovers, and we are learning a lot about wind work and wind leasing,” he said. “Individuals’ skills expansion is crucial.”
On the Kincardine trip, Scott met a subsea engineer who had transferred from working in oil and gas to a career in renewables.
“He is transferring the knowledge and skills he acquired in the oil and gas industry to wind. This is the transition in action.
“The oil and gas industry can also learn from the wind sector where everything is operated remotely from shore.”
The 17 successful projects in Scotwind, with a combined generating capacity of 25GW in the £700m auction earlier this year, offer opportunities for the East of England supply chain to share its expertise and technologies on flagship wind farms with the new projects.
– Credit: ScottishPower Renewables/CHPV
In the East of England, work is under way on Vattenfall’s Norfolk Zone Norfolk Boreas offshore wind farm and ScottishPower Renewables’ East Anglia THREE after successful Contract for Difference results.
Norfolk Boreas, with the consented Norfolk Vanguard in the Norfolk Zone, together with ScottishPower Renewables consented East Anglia ONE North and TWO, which with East Anglia THREE make up the East Anglia Hub, adds up to a total of 6.7GW of new offshore wind off Norfolk and Suffolk to power a total of 6.6 million UK homes with clean, green, home-produced energy.
The nuclear industry celebrated in July when business secretary Kwasi Kwarteng granted permission for Sizewell C, with the hope that by 2050 up to 25% of projected energy demand will come
There are commitments of £4.4bn for the local and regional supply chain, with more than 2,000 companies registered on the Sizewell C supply chain portal.
“Sizewell C will be one of the UK’s largest ever green-energy projects,” said Julia Pyke, director of financing for Sizewell C. “Sizewell C will give a big boost to jobs and skills in nuclear supply chain companies across the country. It will strengthen the UK’s energy security and play a key role in our fight against climate change.”
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