Wind-powered enhanced oil recovery in North Sea gets green light

Wind-powered water injection is a commercially competitive alternative when host platform capacity is limited or injection wells are far away

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BP North Sea oil platform

HOUSTON, Texas – A North Sea project has demonstrated that wind-powered water injection is both technically and financially feasible, say the proponents, which included oil giants Exxon Mobil and Statoil.

The DNV GL-led WIN WIN(Wind Powered Water Injection) Joint Industry Project (JIP) shows that for suitable fields, wind-powered water injection is technically feasible, capable of meeting performance targets, and offers a cost-competitive alternative to conventional water injection solutions.

“For the first time we can now see renewable energy as a large scale source of power to offshore oil & gas operations,” said Remi Eriksen, CEO of DNV GL.

“By utilising the recent developments of floating offshore wind turbines this concept can offer a clean, reliable, and cost effective alternative for powering water injection in offshore locations.”

For the past year, participants from both the renewable and oil and gas industries have worked together in the DNV GL-led WIN WIN JIP to develop the concept of using floating wind turbines to power a water injection system and assess its technical and commercial feasibility.

Technical and operational aspects as well as costs have been assessed. The JIP partners include ExxonMobil, ENI Norge, Nexen Petroleum UK Ltd., Statoil, VNG Norge, PG Flow Solutions and ORE Catapult.

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No major challenges have been identified through the JIP’s study. Analyses of system performance examining site specific cases from JIP partners have shown that WIN WIN is able to meet the operator’s key performance requirements such as injection volume targets, as well as reliability and minimized downtime.

“The WIN WIN project showcases that the oil and gas industry can become a creative force in solving the world’s energy trilemma by driving development of reliable, clean and affordable technologies. This is a win for both the oil and gas and for the wind power industries,” said Eriksen.

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Remi Eriksen, Group President and CEO of DNV GL

“We are encouraged by recent advances in wind technology, particularly for niche applications such as offshore oil and gas operations,” said Sara Ortwein, president of ExxonMobil Upstream Research Company.

“Such technological advances improve the economic feasibility for wind to contribute to the overall energy supply mix.”

“Supplying clean power to oil & gas installations was part of the original idea behind Statoil’s Hywind concept,” says Hanne Wigum, Head of Renewable Technology Development in Statoil.

“The WIN WIN concept represents an alternative source of electricity and has the potential to open up new opportunities for field development.”

The costs for wind powered water injection have been compared with a conventional alternative where water is injected via a flow line from the host platform.

While the WIN WIN technology has higher operational expenditures (OPEX) compared to a conventional alternative, the significantly lower capital expenditure (CAPEX) means that it compares favourably over the long-term.

“For the specific example case assessed in the report, we are looking at a potential cost saving of approximately 20 per cent compared to a conventional solution. This will of course vary greatly between cases,” said Johan Sandberg, project sponsor and segment leader of floating wind turbines at DNV GL.

The next step will be to test critical subsystems in a small scale physical set-up.

“The key objective would be to gain assurance that the components integrated in this configuration will offer satisfactory performance over time with a variable power input,” said Sandberg.

“A potential phase 2 of the JIP is being explored with some of the current JIP partners.”

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