Fuel cell power for oil facility supply vessels

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Hydrogen propulsion is being considered for a retro fit project on supply vessels servicing the Mittelplate drilling and production facilities in the German North Sea.

Currently, the four supply ships in the Mittelplate fleet jointly cover a distance of about 12,500 nautical miles each year to transport supplies to the island, with a current annual consumption of around 275,000 litres of diesel.

“By investigating the conversion of the supply ships to hydrogen-powered fuel cells, we are using technical innovation to protect the Wadden Sea as a World Heritage site and further minimize emissions,” explained Hugo Dijkgraaf, chief technology officer (CTO) at Wintershall Dea, which operates the facilities. “Together with our partners EnTec and Acta Marine, we are assessing the feasibility of upgrading the existing fleet of supply vessels with hydrogen hybrid engines.”

The starting point for the planned retrofit was a recent feasibility study completed under the direction of EnTec Industrial Services. As a first step, the operator says that the supply ship Coastal Liberty is to be fitted with a hybrid propulsion system, utilizing liquid hydrogen tanks, a fuel cell, batter ESS and electric propulsion motors.

“The foreseen conversion to the new drives is another step in implementing Wintershall Dea’s strategy to systematically reduce emissions,” noted the head of Wintershall Dea’s business in Germany, Dirk Warzecha. He added that the shift to hydrogen would represent an important part of a continuous improvement process to achieve greater sustainability.

“By acting responsibly and using state-of-the-art technology, we ensure that oil production and environmental protection in the sensitive Wadden Sea continue to be compatible,” said Warzecha.

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Lawrence has been covering engineering subjects – with a focus on motorsport technology – since 2007 and has edited and contributed to a variety of international titles. Currently, he is responsible for content across UKI Media & Events' portfolio of websites while also writing for the company's print titles.

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