Oil and gas eyes floating wind power

EUROPE: Standalone floating wind turbines could help the oil and gas industry cut extraction costs in certain cases, according a DNV GL-led project.

Floating turbines could be used to help extract more from oil and gas fields
Floating turbines could be used to help extract more from oil and gas fields

The "Win Win" joint industry project looked at the possibility of using floating wind turbines to pump water into oil reservoirs.

The study said increasing extraction by using floating turbines is "technically feasible, capable of meeting performance targets and may offer a cost-competitive alternative to conventional solutions".

For the case study cited in the report, where the injection well is 30 kilometres from the production platform and 30 kilometres from shore, "we are looking at a potential cost saving of approximately 20% compared to a conventional solution," said Johan Sandberg, project sponsor and segment leader of floating wind turbines at DNV GL.

"With many fields today operating at the break-even point, an estimated saving of $3 per barrel of oil can make a huge difference," he noted.

While operational expenditure for the case study, estimated at €4.7 million per year, is higher than conventional alternatives, the significantly lower capital expenditure of €75 million means that wind-powered water injection "comes out comparable in a 20 year lifecycle comparison," the study concluded.

The business case is stronger the greater the distance between the production platform and the injection well, but is also strong where there is no fuel gas on the platform to power the generators so has to be imported, and where there is no spare generation capacity, Sandberg said. Retrofitting new gas turbines is "a huge cost", he explained.

The next stage of the project — which involves seven partners, including Statoil, ExxonMobil and ORE Catapult — will be to validate the system in a physical set-up, DNV GL said.

Sandberg believes the first wind-powered water injection systems could be installed by 2020, thus helping drive the development of floating wind.

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