Photo: Magnus platform; Source: Net Zero Technology Centre (NZTC)

UK geothermal specialist awarded ‘first of its kind’ study to decarbonise oil & gas extraction

UK-headquartered geothermal energy projects development company CeraPhi Energy has been awarded funds to carry out – what it describes as – a pioneering decarbonisation study, aiming to repurpose offshore oil and gas wells to generate renewable power in a quest to decarbonise the production process.

CeraPhi Energy informed on Wednesday that it has been awarded the “first of its kind geothermal study” to undertake the repurposing of offshore oil and gas wells using its proprietary advanced closed loop technology, CeraPhiWell, that is designed to fit into old wells to extract heat from deep underground by a downhole heat exchanger.

Karl Farrow, CeraPhi, Founder and CEO, remarked: “This award is a statement to how the oil and gas industry is transitioning in the decarbonisation of the oil and gas extraction process.”

The company explained that this technology allows for the heat produced to be used as direct power and/or heating or cooling for utilities and other services, depending on the operating temperatures established in the study. This would reduce the overall carbon emissions of the facility.

“If we can use old non-productive wells to produce clean baseload energy, why can’t we make those same wells produce carbon free energy when they are drilled, reducing the carbon footprint during the oil and gas extraction process and ensuring the maximum use of these assets through a complete energy transition over decades,” added Farrow.

Furthermore, CeraPhi Energy’s study will cover the initial phase of a staged process to determine how retrofitted wells can reduce the carbon footprint of an operating platform. Led by the CeraPhi Subsurface Engineering Team in collaboration with topside engineering services company Petrofac, the study will use EnQuest’s Magnus platform as the base case, where Petrofac serves as operations and maintenance contractor.

Jonathan Carpenter, Vice President, Petrofac New Energy Services, stated: “Our engineering specialists are looking forward to working with CeraPhi on this pioneering study, which has the potential to unlock a completely new way of generating renewable power using existing oil and gas infrastructure. It could be a game-changer in our efforts to decarbonise the oil and gas production process and has wider applicability for clean base load power as well.”

The Magnus platform is a fully integrated drilling and production facility with a design capacity of 85,400 stbpd of crude oil, and 110 mmscfd of gas export and a maximum of 240,000 bpd of produced water. This platform is considered to be one of the UK’s largest operating facilities and sits north of the Shetland Islands, according to CeraPhi Energy.

Craig Nicol, Project Manager, Net Zero Technology Centre, commented: “We are delighted to be supporting CeraPhi with this ground-breaking project that if proven could become a serious contributor to the renewable energy mix. The industry is facing a significant challenge to decommission wells that have come to the end of their production, this novel approach has the potential to extend their life whilst delivering on our net-zero targets.”

Created as part of the Aberdeen City Region Deal, with £180 million (around $225 million) of UK and Scottish government funding to maximise the potential of the North Sea, the Net Zero Technology Centre (NZTC) aims to develop and deploy technology to accelerate an affordable net-zero-energy industry. The NZTC is actively engaged in advocating the role of technology in decarbonising the oil and gas industry.

CeraPhi Energy’s geothermal closed loop system, which is designed to capture high-temperature heat from under the ground and convert it to clean baseload renewable energy, falls in line with tech innovations the NZTC would be interested in promoting.