The Canadian government is backing commercialisation of a floating wind-powered drilling concept developed by sector pioneer Saitec and Newfoundland-based consultancy Waterford Energy Services (WES) that could be used to cut greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from oil and gas operations off the country’s maritime provinces.


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The concept, being funded from a C$24.4 million ($20 million) pot at Natural Resources Canada (NRC), is envisioned as a “plug-and-play” clean-energy power unit based on Saitec's SATH design that could run mobile drilling rigs and other offshore installations in the Grand Banks area “and abroad”.

“Commonly, professionals from the oil and gas industry have joined the offshore wind industry bringing valuable know-how and skills. Paradoxically, Saitec is taking the opposite direction coming from the renewable world to oil and gas,” said David Carroscosa, Saitec’s CTO.

“In any case, Saitec is really motivated to tackle the massive challenge of decarbonising these valuable oil & gas assets.”

Blair MacDougall, WES’ president, said: “There’s no reason why we can’t be leaders in renewable and non-renewable energy technology, and this aligns perfectly with Waterford’s vision to have our feet firmly planted in both spaces.

“Saitec’s… and our skills and capabilities complement each other very well. It’s amazing in a way that our joint-venture came about in the midst of a global pandemic, but that’s a testament to our collective belief that we can make this project a reality in the near future.”

A second phase of the project would look at developing a “full field” demonstrator where a floating wind turbine’s generation would be linked to an offshore or near shore oil and gas complex.

NRC is financing the project, which is being managed by Petroleum Research Newfoundland and Labrador, through the offshore research and development component of its emissions-reduction fund.

The growth of the market for offshore wind-powered oil and gas production has been steady with the first true industrial-scale project, the 88-megawatt Hywind Tampen, being developed by Norwegian energy giant Equinor to cut emissions from its Snorre-Gullfaks oil field in the North Sea.

(This article was first published on 11 May 2021 by Upstream's renewable energy sister publication, Recharge.)