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Concept to Convert Jack-up Rigs for Offshore Hydrogen Production

converting jack-up rigs to produce green hydrogen offshore
(Borr Drilling)

Published Sep 21, 2021 2:11 PM by The Maritime Executive

With the drive to find additional sources of renewable energy, a partnership from the offshore sector and the hydrogen industry is exploring a novel concept to convert existing jack-up rigs for the production of green hydrogen. They believe that industrial-scale offshore green hydrogen production can be achieved through the redeployment of the existing rigs while also enhancing the commercial feasibility of remote offshore wind projects.

Known as Project Haldane, it is exploring the deployment of an electrolyzer system on a converted jack-up rig. Offshore engineering company Aquaterra Energy is partnering with offshore drilling contractor Borr Drilling and hydrogen producer and supplier Lhyfe to develop the concept for offshore green hydrogen production in the North Sea.

“With years of experience in successful delivery of complicated offshore jack-up operations, complex structural projects, and offshore process systems we are excited to be the interface that brings together the interest of Lhyfe in offshore markets and expands on Borr Drilling’s expertise in jack-up rig equipment,” says James Larnder, Managing Director at Aquaterra Energy. “Our unique value here is that we are multilingual in terms of the engineering and operational needs of oil and gas assets, and green energy processing systems. We’re looking forward to taking this from concept to reality.”

The companies believe that reliable winds far out in the North Sea are an exceptional renewable resource, yet remote locations create challenges around grid connectivity and intermittency of supply. The concept of placing an electrolyzer system on a converted jack-up rig they believe can open up the potential of remote locations. The installation would use power from the wind farms while leveraging the existing infrastructure of platforms, pipelines, terminals, and offshore equipment to reduce costs.

“With our expertise in complex offshore operations and fleet management, Borr Drilling will leverage its core capabilities to evaluate the adoption of this alternative energy source in an environment with a large untapped potential,” says Darren Sutherland, Director of Operations at Borr Drilling.

Lhyfe is already producing renewable hydrogen in industrial quantities onshore, with a direct connection to renewable energy, pumping seawater and purifying it to feed the electrolysis process. The company based in France notes that it has already been exploring offshore production and a similar production process for harsh offshore conditions. 

“Offshore wind offers the greatest potential for sustainable hydrogen production because of the cost effectiveness that can be achieved through scalability and technological innovation. The market is yet to deliver a flexible solution that benefits from the existing infrastructure in the North Sea and Lhyfe wants to be at the forefront of this change by creating a world-first green hydrogen production of this kind,” says Matthieu Guesné, CEO at Lhyfe.