With increasing incentives for reducing the CO2 emissions offshore, optimization of energy usage on offshore platforms has become a focus area. Most of offshore oil and gas platforms use gas turbines to support the electrical demand on the platform. It is common to operate a gas turbine mostly under part-load conditions most of the time in order to accommodate any short term peak loads. Gas turbines with flexibility with respect to fuel type, resulting in low turbine inlet and exhaust gas temperatures, are often employed. The typical gas turbine efficiency for an offshore application might vary in the range 20–30%. There are several technologies available for onshore gas turbines (and low/medium heat sources) to convert the waste heat into electricity. For offshore applications it is not economical and practical to have a steam bottoming cycle to increase the efficiency of electricity production, due to low gas turbine outlet temperature, space and weight restrictions and the need for make-up water.

A more promising option for use offshore is organic Rankine cycles (ORC). Moreover, several oil and gas platforms are equipped with waste heat recovery units to recover a part of the thermal energy in the gas turbine off-gas using heat exchangers, and the recovered thermal energy acts as heat source for some of the heat loads on the platform. The amount of the recovered thermal energy depends on the heat loads and thus the full potential of waste heat recovery units may not be utilized. In present paper, a review of the technologies available for waste heat recovery offshore is made. Further, the challenges of implementing these technologies on offshore platforms are discussed from a practical point of view. Performance estimations are made for a number of combined cycles consisting of a gas turbine typically used offshore and organic Rankine cycles employing different working fluids; an optimal media is then suggested based on efficiency, weight and space considerations. The paper concludes with suggestions for further research within the field of waste heat recovery for offshore applications.

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