Hydrocarbon extractor Neptune Energy has become the latest oil company to consider switching to clean electricity to run its offshore rigs and pumps.

Storage of CO2 and hydrogen are included in a memo of understanding the firm has signed with marine wind-farm developers Ørsted and project managers Goal7.   Their task is to explore powering new integrated energy hubs in the North Sea with wind-generated electricity.

London-based multinational Neptune has filed three applications under the North Sea Transition Authority’s Carbon Dioxide Appraisal and Storage licensing round, intending to secure licences enabling it to develop hub proposals. The authority expects to issue licences early in the new year.

Earlier this month oil giants BP, Equinor and Ithaca signed a government-supported understanding to investigate technical and commercial feasibility of running rigs up to 180 km from land from either offshore or land-based turbines.

The first two of Ørsted’s four-phase Hornsea Wind farm developments off Yorkshire are now in operation.  At over 1.3GW Hornsea II surpassed its forerunner as the world’s biggest wind farm, when commissioned in August this year.

Neptune Energy’s director of new energy Pierre Girard, said: “The development of integrated energy hubs is an important part of Neptune’s strategy to store more carbon than is emitted from our operations and the use of our sold products by 2030.

“The agreement with Ørsted and Goal7 will support research into the potential use of wind-generated renewable electricity to power our future hubs, which could comprise new and repurposed offshore assets and bring together hydrogen production and carbon injection facilities.”

Duncan Clark, Ørsted’s managing director for UK & Ireland said: “The UK is a world leader in deploying offshore renewable energy.

“It’s crucial that we use this clean technology as effectively as possible, finding new and alternative routes to market to ensure we are able to maximise the use of renewable power at the time it is produced.

“We must continue taking action to limit the damaging effects of climate change.  Supporting the decarbonisation of other industrial sectors and providing renewable energy to enable more sustainable carbon storage is an important consideration as the UK transitions towards a low-carbon economy.

“As we build out the largest offshore wind zone in the world with our Hornsea projects and demand for electricity continues to increase, optimising production of these huge offshore assets will bring even greater value to consumers and support the UK’s efforts to meet its 2050 net zero commitments.”

In April 2020, Neptune Energy  announced its intention to produce the world’s first seawater-sourced green hydrogen from a rig in the North Sea.

Neptune’s PosHYdon pilot partners the oil firm with Dutch pipeline operators and Nexstep, the nation’s agency tasked to re-purpose redundant marine rigs.


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