Making wind powered water injection a commercial reality

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Offshore oil and gas operators are being encouraged to implement a new solution using floating wind turbines to power water injection for oil recovery, reducing costs, increasing flexibility and avoiding carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions. The ‘WIN WIN’ (WINd powered Water INjection) concept was conceived by DNV GL in 2013 and is now reportedly ready for prototype development after two joint industry projects have shown the concept to be both cost efficient and technically feasible. 

Water injection is an effective tool in exploiting oil reserves, but the process is often inhibited by the high costs associated with large gas or diesel generators and complicated subsea infrastructure. By using a floating wind turbine, the WIN WIN concept allows the injection system to operate independently, eliminating the need for long flowlines from the platform.   

DNV GL has worked extensively with oil and gas companies since 2015 to bring the new concept to prototype readiness. The first phase of research explored the techno-economic feasibility of the wind powered water injection, while the recently-completed second stage involved advanced proof-of-concept lab tests.

President and CEO of DNV GL, Remi Eriksen, says: ‘It is always inspiring to see a great idea whose time has come edge towards reality. 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?’

The oil and gas industry is under significant pressure to reduce both costs and emissions from extraction activities. Maximising oil recovery from new and existing fields is of paramount importance. Water injection is widely used globally as a means for improved oil recovery (IOR). However, conventional methods entail high power consumption, significant emissions and costly infrastructure. Furthermore, power supply limitations from host platforms often places a constraint on the ability to install or expand water injection capacity. One solution is to install additional diesel or gas turbines, but space and weight restrictions on the platform can make this costly or even impossible. Costs also correlate to the tie-back distance from the well to the host platform, often leading to long and expensive flowlines.

Both onshore and offshore wind power have experienced an extraordinary development over the past decade and costs are now just a fraction of what they used to be. Additionally, a number of successful demonstration projects have shown the viability of floating wind turbines and the world’s first floating wind farm, Equinor’s 30 MW Hywind Scotland Pilot Park, has demonstrated extraordinary performance.

According to DNV GL, the WIN WIN concept could be ‘an important step towards integrating this [wind] technology with oil and gas operations’ and ‘may be the beginning of a new era for the industry’.

Wind-powered water injection
Image: DNV GL

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