Plan to repurpose oil platforms for hydrogen production


RESEARCHERS have announced that plans to create “green” hydrogen on offshore oil and gas platforms in the North Sea have reached a major milestone. A study conducted by the Net Zero Technology Centre (NZTC) and Aberdeen’s Apollo has successfully addressed early doubts, leading to a “clear understanding” of the benefits of replacing the topsides of North Sea platforms with equipment like electrolysers powered by renewable energy sources.

Crucially, Apollo discovered “potential for significant cost reductions,” despite the challenges of re-engineering jackets and platform legs. The Hydrogen Offshore Production Project (HOP2), which received £2.12 million from the Scottish Government’s Just Transition Fund, was spearheaded by Apollo engineers as the company aims to increase hydrogen production. This study looked into UK offshore assets, developed equipment lists, and explored layout options, marking a major step forward in reducing the country’s emissions, according to Apollo’s decarbonisation director, Phil Westmorland.

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The HOP2 project underscored the need for collaboration with suppliers to create custom electrolyser designs for offshore use, should the option of repurposing oil platforms be considered.

Apollo’s mechanical manager, Keith Archibald, was initially skeptical about the project.

“Initially sceptical about the idea of offshore hydrogen production through replacing topsides on existing asset substructures, we completed the study with a clear understanding of its advantages,” Archibald said.

“While repurposing existing jacket or GBS substructures will certainly be demanding, the potential for significant cost savings justifies additional effort to more precisely determine the footprint requirements for such assets.”

As the NZTC advanced its efforts on the Scottish Government’s £2.7 billion network of hydrogen connections linking hydrogen centers in Scotland to Germany, Scotland’s energy and climate cabinet secretary, Mairi McAllan, announced in late November that the Scottish government is committed to unlocking the potential for hydrogen exports and will shortly release an export strategy.

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