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Westwood: Equinor drives low-emission rig adoption in Norway and Brazil with rest of the world slower off the mark

Equinor’s 33,618 contracted days of low emission upgraded rigs from 2020-2032 is by far the most of any active operator. (Source: Westwood Global Energy Group.)

New research from Westwood Global Energy Group reveals that the availability of emission-lowering upgrades for offshore rigs has been on the rise but adoption of these new technologies is slow outside of Norway and the US Gulf of Mexico due to limited regulatory and financial incentives.

The report revealed that the biggest users of rigs fitted with emission reduction technology are those with ambitious emission goals of their own, driven largely by Equinor’s Norway and Brazil operations. Between 2020 and 2032, Equinor’s contracted days of low-emission upgraded rigs is 33,618 (92 rig years) compared with the combined number of days for all other operators, which is 43,600 rig days (119 rig years).

“Drilling contractors, and the industry as a whole, are starting to realize that oil and gas will be imperative to energy security over the coming years, but that doesn’t need to come at the detriment of the energy transition. Rig operators have ambitious Scope 1 reduction targets, and eco-friendly rig technology is keeping pace. The next step is for regulators to work with the industry to ensure that the framework is there to facilitate adoption of these new technologies in a financially sustainable way,” said Teresa Wilkie, RigLogix Director at Westwood.

Since the downturn in 2014, newbuild rig orders have almost come to a halt due to lack of demand, a mass oversupply of rigs and a resulting stack of newbuilds left abandoned in shipyards with no work. There is still a lack of appetite to invest in costly newbuilds and therefore a deluge of “green” newbuild rig orders is unlikely. Instead, it is expected that we will continue to see more of the current fleet retrofitted for lower emission operations.

“Some drilling contractors are at the beginning of their emissions reduction journeys, while others have been working on emission-reducing technologies, projects, and studies for several years. By amalgamating the industry’s different and increasing efforts regarding this complex topic, we can better understand the trajectory of the industry, highlight new technologies and identify the areas of opportunity,” Ms Wilkie said.

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