Edinburgh researchers have developed an innovative plan that could bring the Beatrice oil field back to life — for an eco-friendly purpose. The study, published in the International Journal of Greenhouse Gas Control, was part of the University’s GeoEnergy MSc program.

Rather than decommissioning the structure, the team believes refitting old platforms to act as pumping stations for self-contained CO2 storage sites would be 10 times cheaper. As part of the plan, sites would store emissions generated by natural gas production, as well as CO2 generated from other sources — i.e., power stations — in an effort to help hinder climate change.

Repurposing Beatrice Oil Field

Researchers determined only minor changes would be needed to convert existing Beatrice platforms into storage sites. The team used computer modeling software to calculate costs for their plan, which they believe would be 10 times cheaper, over a 30-year-period, than completely demolishing the structure.

Study results revealed large quantities of natural gas and heat energy can be removed from saltwater in exhausted oil and gas fields. Consequently, the gas can serve as fuel or burnt on platforms to generate electricity. Researchers think mixing saltwater from the oil field with CO2 made by burning the gas allows it to be inserted deep underground for permanent safe storage.

The research team believes potential revenue from extending natural gas production in the North Sea could help the U.K. become a world-leading carbon capture and storage industry.

Deconstructing Beatrice Oil Field

Located approximately 22 kilometers from the Scottish coastline, the Beatrice oil field decommissioning program was approved in 2004. It was originally slated for reuse for military training purposes, but the Ministry of Defence ultimately withdrew the agreement.

The deconstruction team from the Repsol Sinopec oil and natural gas company has initiated a series of studies to assist with pre-planning initiatives for the decommissioning. The company is also working with a variety of organizations, special interest groups, advisory bodies, and other stakeholders to decommission the structure in the safest possible manner.

The Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy serves as the regulatory authority for decommissioning. Only time will tell if the plan proposed by the Edinburgh research team will come to fruition.

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