MODS recently attended the OEUK Share Fair in Aberdeen, which returned after a five-year hiatus.
Offshore Energy (OE) UK is a representative body for the UK offshore energy private sector. Members are a wide-range of companies active in the UK continental shelf (UKCS), from producers to contractors to solutions-providers. The conference was a coming together of this diverse array of industry players to identify challenges and discuss solutions to preserve and enhance the North Sea offshore energy sector.
470 people involved in UKCS projects and initiatives took part in the Share Fair, with 13 companies sharing their forward work plans. Here, we discuss our top 5 takeaways from the conference:
- The conscious evolution of North Sea O&G
- Energy companies are diversifying more than ever
- The essential nature of broader infrastructure improvements for renewables to succeed in the UK
- The quest for Net Zero is seeing energy companies embrace Carbon Capture and Sequestration (CSS)
- The North Sea decommissioning market is booming
The conscious evolution of North Sea O&G
Pressures from the energy transition have permeated and taken hold in the UKCS, and it is projected that a more conscious oil and gas (O&G) industry is here to stay.
Presenters at the OEUK Share Fair were at varying stages in their respective digital transformation (DX) journeys. But the overwhelming commonality was that change is here to stay. The Share Fair highlighted that the energy transition is being embraced across the board, including those in the more traditional energy sectors (i.e.O&G) who articulated an increasingly sensitive approach towards their hydrocarbon businesses.
What does this mean? Well, it’s undeniable that O&G remains core to energy growth in the UKCS. But operators now embrace the energy transition, seeking efficiencies to minimize waste (and, hence, environmental consequences) and loss. It appears to be very much a Lean approach to asset construction, operations and management. The implications here are a continued drive towards decarbonization.
Hydrocarbon industries remain both necessary and controversial, but that they’re turning to face the right direction is a massive step. And, from what was on display at the OEUK Share Fair, we believe they are. The energy transition has been acknowledged, accepted and embraced – and steps are being taken to learn how to honor a radical departure from business as usual. Fortunately, solutions-based tools are designed to aid this effort, streamlining efficiencies and decarbonizing traditional processes.
Energy companies are diversifying more than ever
Recognizing the implications of the energy transition – and the socio-political push towards Net Zero goals – is encouraging energy companies to diversify. The OEUK Share Fair promoted the ideal that all UKCS operators are embracing a more sensitive approach to the energy transition through the adoption of new solutions-based tools that decarbonize existing processes and thinking beyond traditional O&G. Part of this trend is the diversification of energy company portfolios.
From offshore wind to both green and blue hydrogen production, companies are, by and large, exploring alternative ways to meet energy demand. For example, TotalEnergies shared ambitious plans for a new multi-billion GBP green hydrogen project that includes a hydrogen pipeline from the North Sea to the UK mainland supplied by a wind-energy powered hydrogen production solution.
If successful, this industrial-scale green hydrogen supply could be realized within the decade. Scaling-up of green hydrogen is a notorious barrier to what otherwise sounds like a panacea of a solution, making this a very exciting prospect for the UKCS energy sector. Even if this laudable project faces obstacles, the plan itself evidences energy-sector diversification and a push toward cleaner technologies.
Broader infrastructure improvements needed for renewables to succeed in the UK
Presenters at the OEUK Share Fair focused on portfolio diversification and increased steps toward renewable technologies. A common theme was identifying a major challenge in successful implementation: inadequate infrastructure.
Evaluating the myriad of offshore wind projects necessitates broader infrastructure review and improvement, such as the electrical grid. Parts and components needed for new offshore assets, such as wind turbine generator (WTG) blades pose logistical and spatial challenges as to their transport and storage. This means that port and dockside infrastructure demand assessment and, likely, upgrade.
Ambition is one thing. Implementation another. For the UK to successfully up the ante in the UKCS renewables sector, the broader infrastructure needed for the transport, storage and logistics of components needs to be considered.
Carbon capture and sequestration in the UKCS
The quest for Net Zero is seeing energy companies embrace Carbon Capture and Sequestration (CSS). Falling in line with a more conscious sector, CCS is worthy of its own mention, as some major projects were presented.
Spirit Energy discussed plans for one of the biggest carbon storage clusters in the UK, which has the potential to store the equivalent of up to 3 years' worth of UK CO2 emissions. BP presented on a similar carbon storage cluster project, combining CCS, hydrogen and offshore power generation.
By building carbon capture sites nearest to the largest CO2 emitters, where there is both the right expertise and infrastructure, eliminating the need for any greenfield work, these projects capitalize on existing regional infrastructure and engineering capabilities, supporting repurposing, reuse and innovative solutions that minimize waste.
The North Sea decommissioning market is booming
We’ve recently written about the undeniable market opportunity in the North Sea decommissioning of aged O&G assets. Though the decom focus in public discourse revolves around offshore assets, late-life projects of onshore UK assets also forecast a significant workload.
Matthew Bell, MODS Chief Product Officer, says:
“It was great to be a part of the return of OEUK Share Fair, which provided opportunities for companies to exchange information and openly discuss challenges and solutions that can drive efficiency in the energy sector. We are experiencing an appetite to promote change and challenge the way we have always done things. With Net Zero firmly on the minds of most, a huge increase in asset Decommissioning in coming years, and a change in the way energy is provided and consumed, I can only see exciting times ahead for Aberdeen.”
Indeed, the OEUK Share Fair highlighted the decommissioning of assets from BP, Spirit and CNOOC. An overwhelmingly unified regional approach to decommissioning prioritizes environmental considerations and the repurposing of existing locations for new projects.
Decommissioning, when approached through an energy transition lens, holds massive potential for repurposing and reuse of existing infrastructure. When considered alongside portfolio diversification and broader energy goals, it’s important to remember that “cradle to grave” is an antiquated take on the asset lifecycle. Embracing a circular lifecycle that includes recycling and reuse is hot on the menu.
We conclude with thoughts from MODS’s associate and O&G expert, Paul Seccombe:
“The OEUK Share Fair concluded with a great presentation by one of MODS’s partners, Petrofac UK, on their view as to how the regional energy market is changing. They expressed how excited they were to partner with their clients across the entire project value chain.”
By having the right engineering partners in region close to the operating companies – for example, Petrofac – demonstrated the incredible value that the Aberdeen region continues to bring to the UK energy market today. Overall, it was a fantastic, well-spent – and very busy – day out!”
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