Offshore energy integration can play role in net zero

Integrating the UK’s offshore energy sector can reduce carbon emissions from oil and gas production, the UKCS Energy Integration project has found.

In an interim report for the first phase of the Oil and Gas Authority-led (OGA) project, it set out how closer links between oil and gas and renewables would actively support delivery of the UK’s net zero goal through technologies, such as carbon capture and storage (CCS), in the longer-term. Multiple offshore integration concepts were noted as already being technically feasible, as well as viable options for lowering the oil and gas industry’s carbon footprint and decarbonising the UK economy.

The first option to be outlined was platform electrification, a concept capable of significantly cutting emissions on oil and gas installations through use of low-carbon electricity to replace generation from gas and diesel. This would include electricity directly from offshore windfarms and with the technology for platform electrification already proven, it could enable near-term emissions reductions for the industry.

Gas-to-wire (GtW) would see gas converted to electricity offshore and transported through existing windfarm cables, but was noted as being a niche solution, best suited to the Southern North Sea and East Irish Sea. Combining it with CCS, also listed as an option, would avoid incremental CO2 emissions. CCS itself was noted as being essential in all UK decarbonisation scenarios and capable of enabling deep cuts from sectors other than power, with the report adding the storage potential across the UKCS and opportunity for oil and gas synergies is “very significant”. The report also drew on hydrogen as an option, explaining that it has feasible production avenues through both blue and green hydrogen routes, leading to decarbonisation of power, heat and transport, while offshore energy hubs can help to scale up net zero energy solutions. It said that there were multiple sites across the UK suited to such hubs.

The interim report concludes phase one of the UKCS Energy Integration project, with phase two – already well underway – focused on an economy and regulatory assessment to identify barriers, opportunities and quick-wins. The project is set to conclude in Q2 2020 with a final report to follow afterwards.

OGA