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Could floating wind turbines be used for oil recovery?

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The idea is known as WIN WIN by developers DNV GL - Wind-Powered Water Injection.

(Image via DNV GL)

It involves launching fleets of floating wind turbines to power water injection pumps in oil reservoirs.

The idea was conceived in 2013, and now the company say it’s ready for prototype development.

Water injection is used to increase pressure levels in oil fields and enhance production. But doing so requires large gas or diesel generators and complex subsea infrastructure.

According to DNV GL, using floating wind turbines will allow the injection system to operate independently, will eliminate the need for long flowlines from the platform, will reduce costs and will avoid CO2 emissions. 

Project director Johan Sandberg explained:

“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.”

(Image via DNV GL)

The system has undergone extensive research in two stages since 2015, with funding provided by Oil & Gas companies ExxonMobil and Vår Energi AS.

The first phase explored the techno-economic feasibility of the wind powered water injection, while the second involved construction of a simulated microgrid in lab tests at DNV GL’s facility in Arnhem, The Netherlands.

At the Offshore Technology Conference in Houston they announced the successful completion of phase two along with two joint industry projects that determined the concept is cost efficient and technically feasible. The project is now ready for prototype development.

“It’s always inspiring to see a great idea whose time has come edge towards reality,” said DNV GL president and chief executive Remi Eriksen.

“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?”

ExxonMobil Upstream Research Company Vice President Jayme Meier added the completing phase 2 “drives us one step closer to a technically viable and commercially deployable system.”

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Could floating wind turbines be used for oil recovery? - Time to read 3 min
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