British offshore oil and gas electrification


The UK government has set itself the goal of achieving net zero emissions by 2050. The electrification of UK Continental Shelf Oil and Gas Platforms (UKCS) should play an important role in efforts to achieve this. goal, because an analysis by Rystad Energy shows that UK oil and gas production will remain important for decades to come. After declining slightly over the next few years, production is expected to rebound to around 2 million barrels of oil equivalent per day around 2035. UK emissions from North Sea oil and gas production are the highest among producers in the region, reaching 13.1 million tonnes of CO2 in 2019, according to Rystad Energy emissions data. Extraction emissions represent 10.1 million tonnes of CO2, with flaring constituting the rest.

In comparison, Norway’s total emissions from oil and gas production reached 10.4 million tonnes of CO2 and 1.4 million tonnes from Denmark in the same year.

When it comes to emissions intensity, the UK’s 21 kilos of CO2 the barrel of oil equivalent (boe) is also behind the impressive 8 kilos per boe in Norway. Denmark has the highest intensity in the region with 27 kilos of CO2 per boe, reflecting its low production levels compared to the energy needs of its infrastructures. The global average intensity is 19 kilos of CO2 for buoys.

Rystad Energy predicts that UK oil and gas production will increase over the years and peak at 2.09 million boe in 2035, up around 25% from the 1.64 million boe expected this year. year. In order to achieve its ambitious climate goals, the country will need to take serious steps to decarbonize its production by electrifying its infrastructure through renewable energy sources, moving away from carbon-intensive gas turbines and diesel generators. on offshore platforms.

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“There is significant room for improvement when it comes to reducing carbon intensity on the UKCS. We are already seeing that priorities are shifting towards greener solutions on both sides of the decision-making process, and many operators and investors are now incorporating an additional carbon cost into their capital allocation decisions, ”says Olga Savenkova, upstream analyst at Rystad Energy.

The Norwegian Continental Shelf (NCS) can serve as an example: there are currently eight partially or fully electrified oil and gas fields in the country, and eight other fields with sanctioned electrification projects. Rystad Energy predicts that 60% of NCS’s production will come from electrified offshore platforms by 2025.

Following Norway’s lead, several large operators in the UK – as well as some smaller players – are carrying out feasibility studies targeting the electrification of platforms in the central North Sea and west of the Shetlands. Low emission design will be an integral part of new field development plans.

An associated risk here is that carbon-intensive developments may struggle to meet sanction requirements, and end-of-life production assets may face permanent shutdown sooner. As a result, companies will end up with stranded assets if they do not take timely emission reduction measures.

The initial capital investments for the use of renewable energy generation at sea will be higher than traditional power generation solutions, but this additional cost will be partially offset by lower operating costs and price savings. carbon. At the same time, the absence of power generation equipment on the platforms will reduce weight and labor requirements, as well as noise and vibration. The consumption of hydrocarbons by the fields will also be reduced and the problem of fuel shortage for power generation for mature assets will become obsolete.

Shortly after the results of the 32nd lease round Earlier this month, the UK government launched a policy review of its future offshore oil and gas licensing regime as part of the net zero emissions target. This may result in the inclusion of emission reduction obligations in the rating system for future license applications.

Another important technology for achieving the net zero goal is carbon capture and storage (CCS), which the OGA estimates could remove over 130 million tonnes of CO.2 per year of UK emissions. The UK oil and gas industry is well positioned to redeploy its skills, capabilities and existing infrastructure to accelerate CCS deployment.

UKCS has enough CO2 storage capacity to fully meet the country’s needs, as well as oil and gas infrastructure that can be reused for this purpose. Hydrogen is a low-carbon energy source that could replace fossil fuels in power generation, heating and transportation.

The last important element of the UKCS ‘comprehensive approach to energy transition is offshore wind. The development of offshore wind clusters near oil and gas production hubs can create significant opportunities for green electrification of production platforms. At the same time, access to less expensive electricity directly from offshore wind farms for oil and gas operators creates business opportunities for wind developers.

The installed capacity of the world’s offshore wind was 27.6 GW last year, of which 35% was in the UK. The country’s installed offshore wind capacity is expected to increase to 10.4 GW this year from 9.7 GW in 2019 and will reach nearly 38 GW by 2030, close to the government’s target of 40 GW, estimates Rystad Energy.

By Rystad Energy

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