North Star, the UK’s largest ship operator servicing the oil and gas industry, has kick started its ambitious fleet decarbonisation plans with an in-depth sustainability study across its 44 offshore infrastructure support vessels. The results will deliver a roadmap to help the business futureproof its tonnage, enhance operational performance, and meet its net zero 2040 target.
The firm has commissioned independent design and engineering consultants, Houlder Ltd, to determine the carbon emission reduction opportunities on its existing fleet and recommend the most effective green innovations for the firm to invest in over the next decade. The engineering design, clean technology and technical consultancy has extensive experience in supporting marine clients to adapt their fleets to improve environmental performance and meet the decarbonisation challenge.
North Star, which has facilities in Aberdeen, Newcastle and Lowestoft, was established 135 years ago. It has been supporting the oil and gas sector since the 1970s and currently provides continuous asset services to more than 50 oil and gas installations in the region. It employs around 1,400 personnel in the UK to deliver operational certainty in one of the world’s most challenging sea environments.
As part of the three-stage analysis, Houlder will evaluate North Star’s fleet of emergency response and rescue vehicles, platform supply vessels, as well as its future renewables fleet. The first will establish greenhouse gas emissions and carbon intensity across its existing assets and onshore operations. It will then identify the most suitable clean technologies to improve each vessel’s efficiency and reduce environmental impact.
The final phase will assess all potential energy efficient and low emission propulsion solutions which could be retrofitted to the existing fleet in line with operational requirements, available space, displacement, power demand and endurance requirements. Alternative fuels of the future will also be considered. The assessment and results are due to be completed in Q1 next year.
North Star chief exec Matthew Gordon said: “We are 100% committed to cutting greenhouse gases across our business and accelerating our energy transition. This includes further diversification into the renewables market, and improving the environmental sustainability and operational excellence of our existing ships to best serve our clients and shareholders.
“The urgent need for the sector to upscale to zero-emission vessels and clean fuels is gathering pace and while we are well informed on the numerous innovations which would provide dynamic options, it is vital that we are fully informed with conclusive intelligence to support our investment decisions.
“Houlder’s meticulous approach will help us to determine the most effective solutions to adopt, based on our operations, budgets and timeline. Over the next 10 years, we want to adapt our vessels with a trajectory of improvements that will set the future benchmark across the North Sea for green-powered high-performing, reliable, offshore infrastructure services fleet support.”
The firm’s first renewables fleet for the offshore wind market is currently being built. It includes four service offshore vessels (SOVs) and associated daughter craft to support wind turbine technicians working in the North Sea. The market-leading designs utilise low fuel consumption, digital decision support technology, advanced propulsion systems, hybrid power management and a waste heat recovery system. They are also configured for offshore in-field battery charging and future clean maritime fuels.
Chris Bell, senior consultant at Houlder added: “There are many proven energy efficiency adaptations and technologies that can be deployed today to support the transition to net-zero emissions operations. There is no single best solution to the decarbonisation challenge. What’s important is to determine how they can best be packaged together for greatest effect. This study not only determines the viable technology options for the North Star fleet, but also highlights specific ships to target and prioritise. This approach turns a tough challenge into an achievable and actionable process.”
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