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Could wind soon power offshore oil?

Offshore oil production may soon have its energy demands met by offshore wind generation following approval from Norway’s petroleum ministry for Equinor to build a floating wind farm to provide energy for North Sea oil and gas platforms.

The 5-billion-kroner (about £380 million) Hywind Tampen windfarm, which is the first project of its kind, will be located about 85 miles off the Norwegian coast and comprise 11 turbines with a total capacity of 88 MW. This should be enough to meet about a third of the energy needs of Equinor’s three Gullfaks platforms and two Snorre platforms, although the company indicates this may be considerably greater in periods of high winds.

Some may point out the irony of renewable energy being used to produce fossil fuels, but the reality is that petroleum will be with us for some years to come. Crude oil will also be required for the base materials used in the petrochemical industry, such as to make industrial products like hydraulic oil. By using renewable energy on the five platforms, emissions of some 1,000 tons of nitrous oxides and 2,000 tons of carbon dioxide are expected to be avoided each year.

The project will also act as a test site for similar installations in future. This reflects Equinor’s diversification from oil and gas into renewable energy, a move that has been gradually followed by other large oil majors, such as Shell and Total, which have also been investing in wind energy, although generally through acquisition.

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