The Challenge of Energy Efficient Operations

Maritime, Oil & gas

How Knowing Your High Energy Consumers and Baselining, Leads to more Effective Energy Efficiency Improvements.

The energy required to operate mobile offshore drilling units (MODU) is typically provided by diesel fuel oil. However, diesel fuel oil consumption on board MODUs, like all other forms of diesel consumption, contributes towards climate change through direct emissions to the environment, e.g., carbon dioxide, nitrous oxides and sulphur oxides. Diesel also has a financial cost which must be met. Therefore, the business case for energy efficient MODU operations is clear. Additionally, the demonstration of a robust approach to energy efficient operations and emissions reduction can act as a differentiator in a competitive market place.

Joined up approach

Performing regular energy reviews or energy audits can offer the opportunity to analyse energy use and energy consumption, leading to the identification of opportunities for energy performance improvement. Moreover, conducting such reviews/audits in line with a structured energy management system (e.g., ISO 50001) and MODU-specific plan can help to ensure that energy efficiency improvements actioned at the MODU level are targeted/prioritised on the highest energy consuming equipment or processes, and aligned with overall company aims and objectives.

Opportunities for improvement

Technological solutions available to MODU owners to improve overall energy efficiency or more directly reduce emissions include the installation of automated power management systems, hydrogen fuel injection systems or selective catalytic reduction (SCR) systems. There is also the possibility to work together with the operator to achieve efficient drilling operations through project planning or the use of more efficient drilling methods and technologies. Plus, the upgrading of old equipment for more energy efficient alternatives (e.g., pumps, compressors, light fittings) can also help to reduce energy usage more generally across the MODU. There might also be some ‘quick wins’ out there in terms of improvements to operational procedures.


A comprehensive energy review, which analyses energy use and consumption across the MODU can help to identify where to target resources. The energy review will also establish an operational baseline fuel usage against which future performance can be tracked and monitored on an ongoing basis. However, most value is to be gained when the consideration of opportunities for energy efficiency improvement is aligned with an overall company energy management system. This will allow realistic targets to be set, and will guide the company on how best to allocate resources in achieving these targets (e.g., prioritising those assets with a longer future operational life). The implementation of an energy efficiency management plan can also demonstrate to clients, regulators and society in general that the company is taking a proactive approach to emissions reduction and the energy transition.

Neil Smeaton

Neil Smeaton Risk manager and director

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