When the Environmental Foundation Bellona evaluates measures to reduce greenhouse-gas emissions offshore, the obligations under the Kyoto Protocol are key. That is why, according to Bellona, trying to modify the gas turbines offshore to obtain cleaner energy is a dead-end. They will not be clean enough and will hamper further reductions.
"We must always bear in mind that large reductions in greenhouse gases are required. We are talking about both making the offshore sector CO 2-free and helping to reduce emissions in Europe. Norway is small nation, but a major energy producer with a lot to contribute," says Cato Buch, technical expert at Bellona in the area of cleaner energy.
CO 2 mitigation first
"First it is important to get CO 2 mitigation squared away. For the time being we have to use natural gas, but in the long run the goal is power from renewable sources," Beate Kristiansen a project engineer at Bellona says.
"Today's paradox is that even if we have problems with meeting the Kyoto Protocol, we do not have enough available usable quantities of CO 2! The first step is to separate out the CO 2, transport it and inject it to increase oil production or deposit it. For example, Europe's entire production of CO 2 for the next 500-600 years can be deposited in the North Sea.
Kristiansen believes that parallel to this, Norway has to prioritise the development and production of solar cells, fuel cells, wind turbines and all the other technology we need to have in a renewable system in which electricity and hydrogen are the energy carriers.
Bellona views with scepticism Norwegian companies' going into developing countries and reducing emissions there, and getting this approved. On the other hand, Norwegian technology can be exported to developing countries and provide clean energy production. It is the industrialised part of the world that has created the problems and for that reason must be responsible for developing technologies that can drastically reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
"Many doubt that the various technologies Bellona advocates are economically viable. However, in many of the estimates that the discussion is based on not all the factors are included, such as economies of scale, income from gas saved, sales of CO 2 etc. The goal must be for such green investments not only to be socio-economically favourable, but also economically profitable. Here the authorities have a role to play," say Buch and Kristiansen.
They believe that it is pointless to look at an individual platform in isolation and consider electricity from land or fuel cells aboard a platform. This is too narrow. Instead one needs to think in a network perspective and see everything in context. In the CO 2 infrastructure picture, other countries need to be included, primarily Britain and Denmark. Several electrification projects fit in perfectly with Bellona's way of thinking. BP wants to lay cables from the Åna Sira area to the Ekofisk/Valhall area, which will reduce emissions by 700,000 tonnes. Gullfaks is also a candidate, but if power is to come from land here, Bellona believes that a large gas-fired power plant must be built that includes CO 2 mitigation.
"We want to replace the natural gas that is now being pumped in to increase oil production with CO 2. Norway uses approx. 40 percent of produced gas to increase oil production. This is costly. CO 2 often has better properties than natural gas for increasing oil production. Power from land eliminates CO 2 emissions aboard platforms, saving NOK 300 per tonne in taxes," say the technical experts at Bellona.
Today one gas-fired power plant is planned in Kårstø and another in Kollsnes. Bellona would rather build a larger CO 2-free 1,200-1,600 MW power station.
"Projects like this create optimising effects along the way. We won't get anywhere if we're always waiting for the next new technology," says Beate Kristiansen. In addition to electrification, disused platforms can be used for power production, supplying several platforms with clean energy.
"Large-scale facilities with CO 2 mitigation can produce hydrogen. It is possible to add 15% hydrogen to natural gas without having to modify any of the gas-burning equipment. This will reduce CO 2 emissions by at least five million tonnes in Europe and will thus be an excellent environmental sales argument for Norwegian gas," Cato Buch points out.