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CNOOC, Flotation flesh out plans to power Buzzard with floating wind

© Supplied by CNOOCBuzzard North Sea decline
The Buzzard platform in the North Sea.

New proposals would see the two develop the Green Volt offshore wind farm – the world’s largest floating wind array – to provide power to the Buzzard field and the National Grid.

Floating wind company Flotation Energy and oil and gas operator CNOOC Petroleum Europe have formed a new joint venture company, Green Volt Offshore Windfarm Ltd, to develop the plans.

Proposals outlined in a 15 November Scoping Report would see up to 30 floating turbines anchored at a brownfield site, previously host to the Ettrick and Blackbird oil field, 46 miles off the Aberdeenshire coast.

Based on planned turbine sizes of 10-16 megawatts, the scheme could see up to 480MW of generating capacity installed and operational by 2026, making it “the largest offshore floating wind farm anywhere”, Flotation said.

Two export cables are planned: one to supply power to the Buzzard oil field 9 miles away, and another linking the scheme to the National Grid, making landfall near Peterhead and connecting with the New Deer substation.

© Supplied by Green Volt
Green Volt Offshore Windfarm Location. Supplied by Green Volt

The company said it would seek to acquire a site lease as part of the Innovation Targeted Oil and Gas (INTOG) decarbonisation leasing round, an initiative designed to identify new potential areas for offshore wind development specifically to aid electrification of oil and gas infrastructure in Scottish waters.

Currently, the Buzzard platform includes a power generation system which supports oil and gas processing, a gas lift system, water injection system and essential utilities, with a constant demand of some 70 MW. This power generation system is responsible for the direct emission of approximately 300,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide (CO2) per year.

By replacing this system and providing surplus power to the onshore grid, Green Volt would help mitigate up to 500,000 tonnes of CO2 per year, its developers said.

CNOOC operates Buzzard – the UK’s highest producing field – with a 43.21% equity share, alongside Suncor Energy UK (29.89%), Harbour Energy (21.73%) and One-Dyas UK (5.16%).

The operator recently announced first oil from its latest expansion at the field, Buzzard Phase II, which is forecast to reach peak production of approximately 12,000 barrels of oil equivalent per day (boepd) next year.

The additional output will take Buzzard’s total production to 80,000 boepd, CNOOC said.

The operator teased plans to electrify its North Sea platforms and “build a new energy business” in the UK earlier this year.

Under current timelines, the developers expect to make a final investment decision (FID) on Green Volt in Q1 2024, ahead of project start-up in 2026.

It would then provide power throughout the remainder of field life, with operations at Buzzard expected to continue into the late 2030s or early 2040s.

If successful, the project would be “the first major step towards the goals of the UK North Sea Transition Deal”, Green Volt said, and support industry in reaching its interim target of a 50% reduction in production emissions by 2030, compared with 2018 levels.

With a global portfolio of offshore projects, Edinburgh-headquartered Flotation also spearheaded the 50-MW Kincardine floating wind farm, near Aberdeen – presently the world’s largest such scheme.

It has also partnered with Spain’s Grupo Cobra to submit bids for up to seven gigawatts across several sites in the upcoming ScotWind leasing round.

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