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DNV GL urges fresh look at floating wind for oil recovery

Mon 13 May 2019 by David Foxwell

DNV GL urges fresh look at floating wind for oil recovery
DNVL GL believes a floating turbine could provide safe, autonomous operation of water injection to enhance oil recovery

DNV GL is urging offshore oil and gas operators to take another look at its plan for using floating wind turbines for oil recovery, and says the concept is now prototype-ready

WINd powered Water INjection (WIN WIN) was conceived in 2013 by DNV GL and is ready for prototype development after two joint industry projects demonstrated that the concept is cost efficient and technically feasible. 

Water injection is an effective tool in exploiting oil reserves, but the process is often inhibited by the high costs associated with large gas or diesel generators and complicated subsea infrastructure. By using a floating wind turbine, the WIN WIN concept allows the injection system to operate independently, eliminating the need for long flowlines from the platform.   

DNV GL has worked extensively with oil and gas companies since 2015 to bring the WIN WIN concept to prototype readiness. The first phase of research explored the techno-economic feasibility of the wind powered water injection, while the recently-completed second stage involved advanced proof-of-concept lab tests.

DNV GL president and chief executive Remi Eriksen said, “It’s always inspiring to see a great idea whose time has come edge towards reality. Wind power working for oil and gas, and oil and gas working for wind power, not only captures the imagination in these times of transition but makes a lot of business sense. The question now, is who is going to take this concept into physical reality?”

Project director, Johan Sandberg, said, “From the start, this project has had a commercial focus. Potentially substantial rewards await a first mover willing to build a prototype to increase technology readiness and optimise system integration.

“As operators know too well, conventional water injection is expensive, with the power plant occupying valuable deck space and expensive flowlines running to the injection site. With WIN WIN, the power is supplied in situ at potentially much lower cost, with increased flexibility and without emissions.”

In the latest round of research, DNV GL conducted a joint industry project (JIP) with funding provided by ExxonMobil and Vår Energi AS. 

ExxonMobil Upstream Research Company vice president Jayme Meier said completing phase 2 of the WIN WIN JIP “drives us one step closer to a technically viable and commercially deployable system.”

DNV GL believes that using a wind turbine to power water injection systems will reduce costs, increase flexibility and avoid CO2 emissions. It notes that the oil industry is under significant pressure to reduce costs and emissions. Maximising oil recovery from new and existing fields is therefore important.

Water injection is a frequently used and highly effective means of improving oil recovery from oil reservoirs. However, conventional methods entail high power consumption, significant emissions and costly infrastructure.

Power supply limitations from host platforms often place a constraint on the ability to install or expand water injection capacity. One solution is to install additional diesel or gas turbines, but space and weight restrictions on a platform can make this costly or even impossible. Costs also correlate to the tie-back distance from the well to the host platform, often leading to long and expensive flowlines.

DNV GL also noted that onshore and offshore wind power costs have fallen significantly. A number of successful demonstration projects have shown the viability of floating wind turbines and the world’s first floating windfarm, Equinor’s 30-MW Hywind Scotland, has demonstrated very high levels of performance. The class society believes that the WIN WIN concept could therefore be an important step towards integrating floating wind technology with oil and gas operations.

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