Renewable-powered offshore gas platform comes online

The world's first offshore gas platform entirely powered by renewables has started delivering natural gas to the UK, the energy companies behind the project said on Wednesday.

The self-sufficient design of the Cutter platform in the southern North Sea reduces both costs and the environmental impact by avoiding the need for an expensive power cable beneath the seabed, project owners Shell and Exxon Mobil said.

The platform is one of two almost identical “monotowers”, the other being the K17 platform in the Dutch part of the North Sea.

“The renewables package reduces our CO2 emissions, and we also limit our environmental impact through not having to install and bury a power cable on the seabed. We believe this innovation is a world first,” a spokesman for Shell said.

The Cutter platform will be delivering 3 million cubic metres of natural gas a day to the UK Norfolk coast for at least 15 years, corresponding to around 1% of UK gas consumption.

Malcolm Wicks, UK energy minister, said: “This development is a real example of innovative thinking, transferring the latest generation of renewable technology into the existing oil and gas industry to secure more energy for the UK without increasing carbon emissions.”

The platform uses two 6kW offshore wind turbines and 68 solar photovoltaic panels with the capacity to supply 51kW at peak output to deliver gas to the coast 175km away.

The use of renewables lowers fabrication costs to around 40% of conventional platforms, which renders economical the recovery of small pockets of gas that would normally have not been left unexplored, according to Shell and Exxon.

The new design could be applied to most upcoming Shell projects in the southern North Sea, the company said.

Goska Romanowicz

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