A short report from CIGRE and the electrification front

Digitalisation, big data are impacting the power industry. Oil and gas itself is getting electrified with power to, and from the shore, electricity-powered frack units and really big energy storage systems for offshore. Digitzation is rife, along with open source software and new standards.

Those interested in following-up on the new business model for oil and gas outlined in this month’s editorial, or indeed in devising their own ‘next big thing’, need to check out electricity. We have done, visiting the prestigious CIGRE trade show in Paris. The 2018 CIGRE was subtitled ‘Digitalisation, big data and the future of the power industry’. New power generation technologies (some digitally-enabled) are already impacting oil and gas as electric power may flow offshore to provide power to a large production platform. Or in the opposite direction, if the generation is offshore, perhaps associated with CCS as per this issue’s editorial. Another interesting facet of electrification is coming from the ‘microgrid’ movement. This is usually presented as an agglomeration of energy sources (grid, windfarm, photovoltaic) and sinks (residential, industrial, vehicular) whose use is managed and optimized with ‘smart’ technology. The microgrid concept could equally apply to a large offshore platform, or to a refinery or large-scale shale development where energy costs are a significant factor in profitability.

Cigre is the French acronym for the International Council of large electric systems, an almost 100 year-old international professional body founded in 1921. Not all that long ago, CIGRE was perceived as a somewhat staid body in a slow moving business but its brief has been revolutionized with the advent of green energy. Cigre foresees a similar revolution with smart grid, microgrids and increasing ‘digitalization’. We chatted with a rep from Schneider Electric whose EcoStruxure microgrid offering has application in offshore operations where a combination of diesel, photovoltaic, wind energy and battery storage can optimize energy use. The EcoStruxure microgrid provides advanced power control and management functionalities from a simple system of a microgrid controller and scada system. Microgrids can be deployed on brown and greenfield sites and as connected microgrids with a switchable ‘islandable’ capability. A microgrid ‘advisor’ performs dynamic electrical topology computations and measurements in real time to overcome challenges in the microgrid’s changing electrical topology. Energy management functionalities include load sharing, load shedding, black start, load restoration and battery energy storage system (BESS) for photovoltaic production.

There is an increasing interplay between electrical and oil and gas. In October 2018, Norway’s Minister of Petroleum and Energy, Kjell-Børge Freiberg, officially opened Equinor’s (formerly Statoil) power-from-shore solution which will provide 100 MW of electric power to the North Sea Johan Sverdrup field for an estimated 50 years. Powering the platform from without using fossil fuels means that Johan Sverdrup will be ‘one of the most carbon-efficient’ fields in the world when it comes onstream later in 2019 with a CO2 footprint of 0.67 kg per barrel, saving some 460,000 tonnes of CO2 per year. ABB delivered the HVDC equipment for converter stations onshore and offshore. The system uses direct current for electricity transmission over the 200 km long cables. Equinor’s release did not say how the electricity was generated, but Norway is fortunate in that some 95% of its electricity comes from hydroelectric.

A release from ABB provides another slant on offshore electric systems, ABB’s long step-out systems for subsea pump and compressors enable ‘economic hydrocarbon recovery under extreme conditions’. Electrical power for pumps, booster stations or compressors is supplied from an offshore platform or an onshore facility. Variable-speed pumps designed to accommodate pressure decline across a field’s lifetime require sophisticated variable frequency control. Qualification of such systems is critical in view of their long term deployment. For the Asgard project, a three phase 20 MW cable simulator was built to represented field conditions of a 47 km subsea power cable. This enabled analysis and mitigation of resonance in the system.

Kongsberg Maritime has chosen a battery storage system from Swiss Leclanché to power its new fleet of electricity-powered vessels. First off the slips will be the Yara Birkeland, the world’s first autonomous and electric container vessel with a 5MWH storage system.

One problem with shale production is the vast amount of natural gas that is flared along with the oil. All that energy going up in smoke! PW Power Systems and US Well Services have a neat solution to this problem: use the gas to generate electricity and ‘use the electricity to frack the wells’. Electricity comes from PWPS’ 30-megawatt FT8 MobilePac aero-derivative gas turbine generators. The generators are a component of USWS’ patented Clean Fleet system. Actual fracking is performed by conventional hydraulic pumps, powered by electric, rather than diesel, motors. USWS also recently announced its third ‘electric frac’ contract with Apache Corporation.

Speaking at a recent meeting of the Object Management Group-hosted IIoT in Energy forum in Seattle (more in our next issue), Gerardo Pardo-Castellote, (RTI) introduced the Industrial Internet Consortium’s microgrid communication and control testbed for distributed energy resources. The system provides a real-time, secure databus to facilitate machine-to-machine, machine-to-control center and machine-to-cloud data communications. The Microgrid testbed leverages the OMG’s DDS-TSN (time-sensitive network) protocol. Co-author, Wipro’s Manjari Asawa told Oil IT Journal ‘the Microgrid Testbed design based on TSN could be used for off-grid/offshore oil and gas platform deployment. We are now evolving the design to focus more on the connected design with distributed energy resources to optimize demand response capabilities of connected grid’. The system is now installed as a permanent testbed at National Instruments’ IIoT Lab.

French utility RTE recently announcd Power System Blocks, an ‘open source high performance computing framework’ for grid planning and monitoring. Powsybl is part of the LF Energy Foundation, a Linux Foundation project that supports open source innovation in the energy and electricity sectors.

The Siemens-backed Internet of Energy, a specific IoT for the energy sector, is ‘gaining ground’. The IoE uses data generated by today’s smart assets to intelligently network them and improve efficiency, reliability and profitability throughout their life cycle. Digitalization, data networking on MindSphere takes grid operation to ‘an entirely new level’. The benefits in terms of predictive planning, enhanced network operation and value creation beyond the provision of grid transmission capacity are ‘tremendous’.

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