Oilfield services giant Schlumberger is working with New York-based Hyzon Motors to power drilling operations with hydrogen fuel cells.

In a joint development agreement, Hyzon will co-develop fuel cell power generation solutions for North American oil and gas well construction for land drilling rigs, which Schlumberger will integrate into its Intelligent Power Management portfolio.

“Hyzon’s fuel cell technology was purpose-built to withstand the challenges of heavy duty trucking; the durability, performance, and power required for that application provide the foundation for fuel cells to power Schlumberger’s oil and gas field operations,” said Parker Meeks, chief strategy officer at Hyzon Motors.

Schlumberger’s Intelligent Power Management technology uses a battery and automation software to optimise engine performance, automating the cycling drilling process so the battery draws in and puts out power at optimal times.

This technology has shown to reduce fuel use and its associated emissions by up to 25%, the company previously told Upstream.

A drilling rig completely powered by hydrogen fuel cell systems is expected to use about 2.5 tonnes per day of hydrogen and would eliminate 10,000 tonnes per annum of carbon dioxide, if the hydrogen is produced cleanly, the companies said.

The companies expect to demonstrate the first fuel cell power module in oil and gas field operations as early as the fourth quarter of 2022 by powering an onshore drilling rig application. Schlumberger previously told Upstream it plans to use hydrogen fuel cell technology to replace diesel on a drilling rig by early 2023.

Under the agreement, Schlumberger will support the commercialisation of the product to its new and existing customers, including Ensign Energy Services, with whom the company has already signed a memorandum of understanding to integrate the fuel cell technology in drilling operations within the next 12 months.