‘West Mira’ to become world’s first hybrid offshore rig

Germany’s Siemens will supply a battery-based energy storage solution to the West Mira semi-submersible and turn it into the world’s first hybrid offshore drilling rig.

West Mira rig; Image author: Neil Robertson; Image shared with permission from the photographer

Siemens said BlueVault, the company’s advanced lithium-ion battery-based solution, would be installed on Northern Drilling’s West Mira offshore drilling rig set to operate in the Nova Field, approximately 120 kilometers northwest of Bergen in the North Sea.

West Mira, a sixth-generation ultra-deepwater semi-submersible designed by Moss Maritime, will become the world’s first modern drilling rig to operate as a hybrid with a diesel-electric power plant using lithium-ion energy storage solution (ESS).

The solution consists of four converter-battery systems for a total maximum power of six megawatts.

Bjørn Einar Brath, head of offshore solutions in Siemens, said: “The integration of energy storage with the power supply and distribution system of a drilling rig represents an important step towards improving the environmental sustainability of the offshore oil and gas industry.

“Offshore rigs have highly variable power consumption for drilling and dynamic positioning. By incorporating energy storage, it is possible to reduce the runtime of diesel engines and keep them operating on an optimized combustion level. This ultimately leads to lower emissions.”

According to Siemens, the installation of BlueVault on West Mira will result in an estimated 42 percent reduction in the runtime of on-platform diesel engines, reducing CO-2 emissions by 15 percent, and NOx emissions by 12 percent – equivalent to annual emissions from approximately 10,000 automobiles.

The batteries will be charged from the rig’s diesel-electric generators and used for supplying power during peak load times. They will also serve as a backup to prevent blackout situations and provide power to the thrusters in the unlikely event of loss of all running machinery.

The ESS which will be supplied to West Mira is based on a technology previously installed on more than 60 vessels worldwide, including the world’s first electric car ferry MF Ampere in Norway.

“We expect this market to grow significantly, and consequently have invested heavily in the development of safe and reliable ESS solutions by establishing a production facility for battery modules in Trondheim, Norway. The facility will play an important role in helping Siemens meet the global demand for more efficient drilling operations, with the ultimate goal of reducing the offshore industry’s carbon footprint, ” added Brath.

In related news, Siemens won a contract last week to upgrade the AKOFS Seafarer vessel with a battery solution, making it the first such upgrade for a well intervention vessel.


Nova drilling deal

Seadrill will operate the West Mira during drilling operations on the six Nova field wells. Wintershall contracted the rig for work on Nova in June 2018. The contract includes options for an early start in Q3 of 2019, as well as follow-on options.

Should all options be exercised, West Mira is expected to be contracted to Wintershall until the first quarter of 2022.

Siemens added that it would work closely with Seadrill in the coming months to ensure that the hybrid power solution met performance and reliability requirements of the rig.