How Can the Oil & Gas Industry Reduce its Impact on the Environment?
Subsea systems themselves do not produce any emissions, although their host facility can do via flaring and power generation. This is why some companies have moved to emergency flaring only (in the event of an automatic process shutdown) and towards electrification of platforms and floating production systems – and subsea systems – with power coming from shore at the moment.
Norway is the leader in the electrification of offshore facilities, benefitting from the fact that more than 90% of its power demand is met by electricity produced by hydroelectric plants. The UK is moving more slowly towards such a power scenario. An alternative route to reducing emissions can also be achieved by integrating renewable energy systems, such as offshore wind turbines or even wave or current generating devices, with subsea production systems.
Some oil and gas companies are going even further. The French operator, Total – soon to be known as TotalEnergies as it tacks in a new direction in the changing energy world – has a design for a complete subsea production and process complex on the seabed. This concept includes not only power from shore to run all of the seabed machinery (pumps, separation systems, etc.), but also features an all-electric production system, including subsea Xmas trees, eliminating hydraulic fluid, another potential source of pollution, from its system. This concept is similar to the ‘subsea factory’ initiative presented by Equinor, the Norwegian state oil company.
There are other electrification ideas, as well. Companies that manufacture and deploy Remotely Operated Vehicles (ROV) for carrying out the underwater tasks formerly done by divers have also moved in that direction. A leading company, Oceaneering, has deployed an E-ROV for Equinor in association with a seabed ‘garage’ powered by batteries, no longer launching its underwater working drones by ship. Oceaneering says that this has saved 20,000 tonnes of CO2 emissions.