AN ambitious plan to accelerate the decarbonisation of oil and gas assets through a floating wind and hydrogen development has been unveiled.

The £10 billion proposed green infrastructure play, by developer Cerulean Winds, would have the capacity to abate 20 million tonnes of CO2 through simultaneous projects in the west of Shetland and in the central North Sea.

Using an integrated 200-turbine floating wind and hydrogen development, the move would shift the dial on emissions targets and look to creating new jobs.

The venture is now calling on the UK and Scottish governments to make an “exceptional” case to deliver an “extraordinary” outcome for the economy and the environment.

A formal request for seabed leases has been submitted to Marine Scotland.

Cerulean Winds is led by entrepreneurs Dan Jackson and Mark Dixon, who believe the risk of not moving quickly on basin-wide decarbonisation would undermine the objectives set out in the North Sea Transition Deal.

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Jackson said: “The UK is progressing the energy transition, but a sense of urgency and joined-up approach is required to enable rapid decarbonisation of oil and gas assets or there is a risk of earlier decommissioning and significant job losses.

“Emissions are quite rightly no longer acceptable, but with emissions penalties and taxes coming, the UK oil and gas industry’s role in homegrown energy security during the transition could be threatened unless current decarbonisation efforts can be greatly speeded up.

“The consequences of not moving quickly enough will be catastrophic for the economy and the environment.”

The proposed development involved more than 200 of the largest floating turbines at sites in the west of Shetland and in the central North Sea with 3GW per hour of capacity, feeding power to the offshore facilities and excess 1.5GW per hour to power onshore green hydrogen plants.

It also seeks to electrify the majority of current UK Continental Shelf assets, as well as future production potential from 2024 to reduce emissions well ahead of targets, and to provide 100% availability of green power to offshore platforms at a price below current gas turbine generation.

Cerulean has undertaken the necessary infrastructure planning for the scheme in order to ensure the required level of project readiness, targeting financial close in the first quarter of next year.

Construction would start soon after, with energisation commencing in 2024. An Infrastructure Project Finance model, commonly used for major capital projects, is being adopted.

Leading European financial services group, Societe Generale, is advising Cerulean. Allan Baker, global head of power advisory and project finance, commented: “The Cerulean UKCS decarbonisation project has the potential to meet all of the basin’s transition needs by reducing oil and gas emissions as quickly as possible whilst also introducing large scale green energy.

“We are pleased to be supporting the leadership on what is a transformational proposition for the UK.”

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Corporate finance advisers to the energy industry Piper Sandler are also advising. Managing director Tim Hoover added: “The Piper Sandler investment bankers in the UK and in the US have partnered with Cerulean’s leadership over the last year to develop the UKCS decarbonisation model and we are pleased that it is now at the regulatory approval stage; it is a scheme that understands the needs and requirements of the financial markets to make it bankable.”

Cerulean estimates that the current 160,000 oil and gas jobs can be safeguarded and 200,000 new roles within the floating wind and hydrogen sectors will be created within the next five years.

Jackson added: “We have a transformative development that will give the UK the opportunity to rapidly decarbonise oil and gas assets, safeguard many thousands of jobs and support a new green hydrogen supply chain.

“The decision to proceed with the scheme will ultimately rest with the Scottish Government and Marine Scotland and their enthusiasm for a streamlined regulatory approach.”