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Deep Sea Hybrid Power Systems for Deep Sea Oil & Gas Recovery

Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory

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Technology Marketing SummaryAn investment in sub-sea (deep-ocean) hybrid power systems is required to enable off-shore oil and gas exploration and harvesting. Advanced deep-ocean drilling operations, locally powered, will provide access to oil and gas reserves otherwise inaccessible. Such technology will therefore enhance the energy security of the United States. The oil and gas industry is being pushed beneath the surface by economic concerns. According to The Economist (September 8th – 14th 2007), there is a “sea change” in off-shore drilling technology. The article discusses the cost and manpower required to operate a typical oil and gas platform in the middle of the North Sea. There are 435 such platforms in the British waters of the North Sea alone. In regard to costs, the Alwyn North Oil and Gas Platform was built for a cost of £1.5 billion ($2.4 billion) in the mid 1980’s and has spent nearly half that amount upgrading the platform since its construction. According to Oil and Gas United Kingdom, an industry group, oil firms spent over £11 billion in 2007 building and running offshore facilities in British waters alone. Such operating costs places production costs for one barrel of oil at $22 per barrel, which is nearly the highest in the world. These costs are rising rapidly.

Such economics drive the development of sub-sea capabilities on the ocean floor. Such facilities will require ample supplies of local power to operate machinery on the floor, ranging from drills to pumps and compressors. Ultimately safe, efficient and economical submarine tanker fleets could transport fuel, thereby eliminating the need for pipeline construction and transport altogether. Such tankers could rely on natural-gas powered fuel cells, with power system construction analogous to that of the publicized HDW sub-sea vessels.DescriptionLLNL is seeking a partner to develop hybrid energy conversion and storage systems for deep ocean operations. Such power systems will be located on the oceans floor, and will be used to supply oil and gas exploration activities, as well as drilling operations required to harvest petroleum reserves. The objective of the work is to evaluate alternatives and recommend equipment to develop into hybrid energy conversion and storage systems for deep ocean operations. Such power systems will be located on the ocean floor and will be used to power offshore oil and gas exploration and production operations. Energy storage strategies are being considered for further development to enable deep sea oil and gas production. For example, batteries and capacitors can be used to enhance the overall rate capability of a hybrid system, which also includes a fuel cell or other energy engine. Such stored energy is also required for control systems, startup, and to enable the system to tolerate fluctuations in fuel, oxidant and load. The energy storage technologies to be explored may include, but are not limited to: (1) compressed-gas storage; (2) liquid red-ox batteries; (3) secondary batteries in sealed pressure vessels; (4) pressure-tolerant secondary batteries; and (5) Other non-conventional battery systems, for example, oil-compensated polymer-gel lithium-ion batteries; polyurethane potted polymer-gel lithium-ion batteries; lithium-ion batteries; and lead acid batteries.BenefitsHybrid power systems can enable certain off-shore oil and gas exploration and production. Locally powered advanced deep-ocean drilling and production operations may:
  • Provide commercial access to oil and gas reserves otherwise inaccessible
  • Produce lower carbon emissions from subsea generation of electrical power
  • Enhance the energy security of the United States, and
  • Reduce environmental impact of oil exploration and production.
Applications and IndustriesThe opportunity involves the development of hybrid energy conversion and storage systems for deep ocean operations. Such power systems will be located on the oceans floor, and will be used to supply oil and gas exploration activities, as well as drilling operations required to harvest petroleum reserves.

Primary energy conversion by a fuel cell will allow utilization of gas from deep sea well heads while a secondary electrical energy storage system will enable high power for the fueling of pumps and motors.
Technology Status
Technology IDDevelopment StageAvailabilityPublishedLast Updated
Internal ID: 16608Prototype - Further development is required. Some concepts are in the breadboard stage while other storage systems are in a lab prototype phase.Available01/24/201012/30/2010

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To: Annemarie Meike<meike1@llnl.gov>