Wintershall Dea to retrofit supply vessels to run on hydrogen

The German oil and gas company has confirmed the feasibility of equipping its supply vessels for the Mittelplate drilling and production island in the German North Sea with hydrogen hybrid propulsion systems.

The conversions, which will see the vessels propelled by electric engines that are powered by hydrogen fuel cells, are expected to save up to 275,000 litres of diesel annually and cut CO2 emissions by more than 700 tonnes a year, the company said.

‘By investigating the conversion of the supply ships to hydrogen-powered fuel cells, we are using technical innovation to protect the Wadden Sea as a world heritage site and further minimise emissions,’ said Hugo Dijkgraaf, Chief Technology Officer (CTO) at Wintershall Dea.

‘Together with our partners EnTec and Acta Marine, we are assessing feasibility of upgrading the existing fleet of supply vessels with hydrogen hybrid engines,’ he added.

The starting point for the planned retrofit is a recent feasibility study completed under the direction of EnTec Industrial Services GmbH, which operates Mittelplate’s land base in Cuxhaven. The feasibility study forms the basis for a memorandum of understanding on the joint implementation of the project.

‘I am delighted to be implementing the concept developed from the feasibility study and establishing hydrogen technology at Cuxhaven,’ said Jochen Kaufholt, EnTec’s Managing Director.

In a first step, Coastal Liberty supply ship will be fitted first with the hybrid propulsion system. The hydrogen is transported onto the ship in liquid form in ‘tanktainers’. It is then fed from these special containers to a fuel cell and the generated electricity stored in batteries. This electricity then drives the electric engine which sets the ship’s propeller in motion via the shaft.

This first application is expected to lay the foundation in Cuxhaven for a maritime hydrogen infrastructure.

‘Through measures such as converting the ship drives to hydrogen hybrid or running the facilities with 100% certified green electricity, as adopted recently, Wintershall Dea is setting a very ambitious bar for the future,’ said Mario Dreier, the operations manager responsible for production from the Mittelplate field.

Rhys Berry

Rhys Berry