Since the last milestone, when oil becomes a global
key component and the industry strengthened, the
search for oil and gas (O&G) has been focused on the
seas. This is how an offshore sector was created, and
become a valuable member of the drilling field. The
energy demand is constantly increasing due to the
rising global population and power consumption. The
rapid urbanization of developing countries also
increases the need for energy, such as liquid fuels and
natural gas. As offshore O&G wells have a longer
production period than onshore, and due to improves
the efficiency of drilling automation, the drilling
activities at sea have significantly increased.
As manufacturers are constantly improving the
innovative technologies, offshore exploration and
production (E&P) operations moving into further
remote locations and deeper waters. Improvements in
equipment could not only boost oilfield production
but also increase the new technology adoption of
offshore drilling [1]. This should lead to the expansion
of the global mobile offshore drilling unit (MODU)
Offshore energy production is very important in
the global energy structure as more than a quarter of
The Analysis of Offshore Industry Transition -
cceleration from Oil & Gas to Wind
P. Ko
łakowski & G. Rutkowski
ia Maritime University, Gdynia, Poland
ABSTRACT: The present paper provides an overview of the current state and future trends of the offshore
sector worldwide, as well as the relationship between the oil and gas (O&G) and the wind power industry
offshore. Study on the offshore energy transition basis on review of literature, reports, and outlooks of main
energy agencies, classification societies, and main offshore companies - their pathways and ambitions. A
comparative analysis of the oil prices to their e
xtraction at sea. Analysis of new build and scrapped drilling
units, and their utilization. This is followed by correlation analysis between the emergence of new projects in
O&G and wind farms offshore. The new and cheaper technology, and ambitions to reduce greenhouse (GHG)
emission to zero levels, favor renewable. The results disclose that the main O&G companies start investing in
renewable technologies. The offshore energy transition has already begun and accelerating. Nevertheless, full
transition will take a while, as the global power demand is still too high to be covered only by a renewable
source of energy. The number of annual O&G assets decommissioning is double in size compared to the new
projects, and Mobile Offshore Drilling Unit (MODU) utilization average of 60%. Offshore wind develops
dynamically, and the forecasts show that this trend stands at the same high level to cross a number 100 GW
produced from offshore wind globally in 2025, but there is a visible lack of Mobile Offshore Wind Power
Service Operations Units (MOWU). If well planned there is room for mutual benefits between O&G and wind
within the offshore sector due to re-orientation measures.
International Journal
on Marine Navigation
and Safety of Sea Tra
Volume 16
Number 2
June 2022
DOI: 10.12716/1001.16.02.20
the world’s oil and natural gas is produced at sea [2].
It would seem, that due to continuous demand for
energy worldwide, the O&G offshore should continue
to develop. The question arises, due to the latest
downturns, geopolitical frictions, and green
worldwide economy with significant limits in GHG
emissions. Is the oil extraction offshore still profitable?
On the other side, the waters around many
countries are seen as a major potential source of
electricity supply from offshore wind power. Offshore
wind is becoming competitive with other renewable
energy as technology is improving, with larger
turbines and higher turbine ratings [3]. The first
projects using floating wind turbines and solar power
plants are presently entering into operation, based on
concepts widely deployed in the offshore O&G sector.
Cost-competitive floating technologies would expand
the economic resource base for offshore electricity
generation significantly [4].
While the Paris Agreement has been defined with
their ambitions [5], the international organizations,
the world's largest classification societies as well as
major O&G companies start presenting their
pathways. The main goal of all strategies is the fight
against climate change by reducing GHG emissions
up to 2050 or even eliminating it up to the end of the
century. To reach this goal, all parties have to reduce
fossil fuels and change the power generation system
to renewable technologies and alternative fuels. That
would have a huge impact on the offshore sector. But,
is it possible with present demand?
The present study provides an overview of the
current state and future trends of the offshore sector
worldwide, as well as the relationship between the
O&G and wind power at sea. Study on the offshore
energy transition basis on review of literature, reports,
and outlooks of main energy agencies, classification
societies, and main O&G companies - their pathways
and ambitions is presented in section 1. Materials and
data used in the herein study in section 2. The results
in section 3, provide key findings to this research
field’s patterns. A comparative analysis of the oil
prices to their extraction at sea points where is the
profitability limit of the oil production. The analysis
of new build, scrapped, and lay up drilling units, to
their utilization, and correlation analysis between the
emergence of new projects in O&G and wind farms
offshore shows the real trends in which direction the
sector is going. The discussion and conclusion of the
study are presented in section 4.
To answer the question of where we are, in the global
energy transition and how big an impact that will take
on the offshore sector, a full objective picture from all
sides is needed. As a part of this study, we have
reviewed the reports and energy outlooks of main
energy agencies and organizations, the world's largest
calcification society, and major O&G and wind
offshore companies.
The recent outlooks and reports of the below-
mentioned institutions and companies have been
reviewed and compared to have an overview of the
latest trends in the offshore energy transition:
The International Energy Agency (IEA)
coordinates a collective response to major
disruptions in the supply of oil. The agency
provides data, analysis, and solutions on all fuels
and technologies.
Organization of the Petroleum Exporting
Countries (OPEC) is an inter-governmental
organization of 13 nations with the biggest O&G
reserves. The mission of the organization is to
coordinate and unify the petroleum policies of its
member countries and ensure the stabilization of
oil markets to secure an efficient, economic, and
regular supply of petroleum to consumers.
International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA)
is an inter-governmental organization supporting
countries in their transition to a sustainable energy
future. The agency facilitates access to all relevant
information including reliable data on the
potential of renewable energy, best practices,
effective financial mechanisms, and state-of-the-art
technological expertise.
DNV is the world's largest international accredited
registrar and classification society. Provides
services for several industries including maritime,
renewable energy, O&G, electrification. It is also
the largest technical consultancy and supervisory
to global renewable energy.
The main O&G companies: BP, Shell, CNPC,
Exxon Mobile, Total, Chevron, ARAMCO,
The mentioned reports have been reviewed mainly
in terms of strategies taken or planned to take in the
offshore sector.
2.1 Main agencies and organizations' energy transition
Following the latest update from the International
Institute for Applied System Analysis (IIASA), we
will arrive at a global population estimate of 9.4
billion by 2050 [6]. The global economy in 2040 is
expected to be double the size it was in 2018. We also
need to keep in mind that almost one billion people
still lack access to electricity and three billion with no
access to clean fuels for cooking [7]. The fact is, that
very soon, the world will need much more energy to
meet the demand.
As per OPEC forecasts, the global energy demand
is to increase to more than 357 million barrels of oil
equivalent a day (mboe/d) in 2040, with an average
growth of about 1% per year. The long-term global oil
demand is expected to increase by about 12 million
barrels a day mb/d. From the other side the global
level, growth is forecast to slow from a level of 1.4
mb/d in 2018 to around 0.5 mb/d towards the end of
the next decade [7]. The world will need more energy
neither conventional nor renewable, but shifting away
from fossil fuel use to renewable sources not only
reduce carbon emissions, but it would also reduce the
impacts of climate change and improve conditions for
society and business.
Offshore energy resources are huge, and many of
the technologies to produce them are well placed to
deliver competitive products [2]. Nevertheless,
questions remain as to how offshore energy
production will fare in the period to 2040. OPEC
states that offshore crude oil production in the
medium-term should be back on the growing track
because the production is growing again in the main
production areas. Besides, to strong development in
new areas including Brazil and West Africa. They
predict that up to 2024, crude production in these
areas is expected to contribute nearly 25% of non-
OPEC liquids supply growth [7]. On the other side,
the IEA points out that due to the world’s main
offshore O&G fields being fully developed, the next
wave of offshore resources are generally in deeper
water and much further from shore. Conduct new
technological, logistical, and cost challenges [2].
As costs continue to fall for solar and wind
technologies renewable has become the lowest-cost
source of new power generation. Wind farms are now
the cheapest renewable energy source with a leveled
cost of electricity (LCOE) between 60-110 USD/MWh.
Nevertheless, offshore wind farms are still one of the
most expensive renewable energy production
methods, with an LCOE of between 120-135
USD/MWh [7]. All agencies expect that by 2030,
offshore wind power costs will approach those of
onshore wind power and conventional power
production ([7],[8]). IRENA expects that costs will
continue to decline up to 2030 for offshore wind
power technologies for another 55% [9]. This has
become competitive with conventional sources.
Significant advances in technology can surely only
increase and improve their capacity factor.
Agencies put strong attention that the location of
wind power plants needs to be carefully chosen, as
evidenced by the often low capacity factor of existing
wind power plants [9]. An important aspect to bear in
mind with renewable energy, especially in
conjunction with wind power is the fact, that the
natural conditions have a key impact on energy
production. In the case of wind, this concerns whether
and how strong the wind blows. A high capacity
factor can only be obtained where the wind blows
constant and forcefully from more or less the same
direction [10]. This is a characteristically offshore case.
Consequently, there are significant constant
improvements, mainly related to scaling up existing
technology and expanding on the experience gained
in the deployment of offshore wind turbines [11].
Very important for offshore wind power generation,
is it no longer needs to be limited to shallow shelf
regions [12]. The fixed platforms used to hold the
wind turbines, limit the regions where such offshore
wind farms can be built, but the invention of floating
wind turbines can extend the range of potential
offshore wind farms all around the world [13].
Presently, the wind is the second most important
renewable power source, behind hydropower, both
given generated power and installed capacity. It
accounts for 18% and 24%, respectively, in renewable
energy [7]. DNV Energy Transition Outlook forecasts
that 30% of all global electricity production will come
from wind energy by 2050, with 12% from offshore
wind and 18% from onshore wind [14]. IRENA
provides information that offshore wind projects in
Europe are now more and more competitive with
fossil fuels [9].
However, OPEC cools down the IRENA
enthusiasm and puts on attention that we need to be
careful with interpretation when comparing these
numbers to conventional power plant capacity:
“Detailed numbers from the IRENA for both
renewable capacity and generated renewable power in
2017 reveal an average capacity factor for the whole
renewable power sector of only around 32%. The
capacity factor is very important in judging the actual
contribution of additional power capacity. For
example, 1 MW of PV solar capacity delivers only
around 1,100 MWh in a year, 1 MW of onshore wind
capacity already delivers approximately twice as
much (2,170 MWh) and 1 MW of offshore wind
capacity delivers again substantially more at around
3,030 MWh. However, modern coal-fired power
plants used for base-load generation have a capacity
factor of 80%, and nuclear power plants are typically
intended to deliver a capacity factor of 90%. In these
cases, significantly more electricity is generated
throughout the year, namely 7,000 MWh and 7,900
MWh, respectively. To catch up with a typical coal-
fired power plant generating 600 MW of electricity,
3,800 MW of PV power or 1,940 MW of onshore wind
would need to be installed. Replacing a large1,300
MW nuclear power plant would require 8,200 MW of
PV, 4,200 MW of onshore or 3,000 MW of offshore
wind” [7].
Offshore wind is becoming competitive with other
renewable energy as technology is improving, with
larger turbines and higher turbine ratings (with up to
20 MW turbines expected to be used for projects in
2030) [11]. As a result, capacity factors are increasing,
boosting energy yields and reducing total installed
turbines and other costs [14]. Furthermore,
competitiveness and LCOE reductions have been
driven by recent projects. The increased deployments
and growing maturity of offshore wind markets in
Europe and China between 2010 and 2020 have also
reduced risks and uncertainty for investors [9].
As per IEA, the transformation of the energy sector
can happen without the O&G industry, but it would
be more difficult and more expensive [8]. A main and
very important aspect of the world's energy transition
is a fight against climate change to eliminate GHG
emissions. Due to a couple of new structure
regulations, like the Paris agreement regarding
climate change [5], a European Green Deal [15], or
IMO's new global sculpture limit of 0.5% for ships
fuel oil [16], the decarbonization process has begun.
The company's commitments to reduce emissions
intensities are becoming more common. The impacts
of the climate will become more visible and acute in
the coming years, increasing the pressure on all parts
of society to find solutions [8].
Agencies, institutions, research & intelligence
companies, and main O&G companies are trying to
aim the goals and introduce their pathways to find the
best solution. The IRENA’s Transforming Energy
Scenario together with several other scenarios have
recently been published to explore transition
pathways for the energy system in the coming
decades. Climate change or discussion about
decarbonization and its pathways is not a subject of
this study. However, is noticeable that the role of
renewable share is coming to increase in a significant
way. IEA, as well as OPEC, have a common view on
the pathways towards an energy transition. It is
supposed to be different to each country, that further
shifts in the power generation will depend on
country-level policies and investments due to the
varying conditions for renewable energy sources, as
well as the specific nature of renewable ([2],[7]).
Governments' policies will play a key role in the
amount of electricity generated from renewable
sources and in limiting the burning of fossil fuels to
produce power [7]. The focus on climate change will
also play an important role in technological research
and development like new generation marine
propulsion systems ([17],[18]). The European Green
Deal Investment Plan presented by European
Commission in December 2019 predicts spending at
least 1 trillion euro over a decade to reach the goals.
That is a strong signal where the cash flow will be
directed to [9]. The OPEC suggests that for the time
being during the transition period it is not about
choosing one energy source over another. There is a
need to look to evolve, develop and adopt cleaner
energy technologies that make it possible to meet
expected future energy demand sustainably and more
efficiently [7]. The IEA, aware that, in the absence of
more concerted policy action, demand for oil and
(especially) gas would continue to grow to 2040, while
coal demand would remain where it is today [2].
2.2 Main O&G companies' energy transition outlooks
and their strategies
The IEA classifies O&G companies into four main
groups: two of these categories cover companies that
are fully or majority-owned by national governments
and the other two relate to privately-owned
companies. In the first group are National Oil
Companies (NOCs) that concentrate on domestic
production. The second group of International NOCs
(INOCs) has both, domestic and significant
international operations.
Into the third group belongs the “Majors” the
integrated companies listed on US and European
stock markets include seven companies: BP, Chevron,
ExxonMobil, Shell, Total, ConocoPhillips, and Eni.
The last fourth group is “Independents” - either fully
integrated companies, similar to the Majors but
smaller in size, or independent upstream operators[8].
Along with the pace of energy transformation,
several O&G companies have begun to adjust their
business models. Both to reduce emissions and to
mitigate climate-related business risks. Every part of
the industry needs to consider how to respond
therefore no single O&G company will be unaffected
by clean energy transitions. The industry landscape is
varied and there is no single strategic response that
would be having an important effect on all. The O&G
industry used to put strong attention on the Majors, as
the companies have a strong influence on the industry
direction [8].
Table 1. Future emission ambitions of Major O&G
company’s SOURCE: basis on major company’s reports
Majors Targets
BP Net-zero by 2050
Shell Net-zero by 2050
Total Net-zero by 2050
Chevron 2-5% net reduction for gas by 2023
5-10% net reduction for oil by 2023
ExxonMobil 10% net reduction for oil sand by 2023
Several visible targets.
ConocoPhillips Net-zero by 2045-2055
Eni Net-zero by 2030 (upstream)
Net-zero by 2040 (group)
As per Tab1. created based on Major company’s
outlooks and energy reports, we can observe that
most of the Majors have a similar target a net-zero
greenhouse gas emissions by 2050 or sooner. To
achieve that goal, the companies need to implement
and accelerate the transition as soon as possible. Most
of the O&G companies like Shell or BP have been
changed their portfolios from petroleum companies to
energy companies, to show, that they are active
players in the transformation of the energy system
([19],[20]). So far, main O&G companies spending
around 5% on average on projects outside the core
business, with the largest outlays in solar PV and
wind [2]. The investments and strategic responses to
energy transition by selected companies are illustrated
in Tab. 2.
Nowadays, for those companies which are
planning to diversify their operations, diverting
capital towards renewable businesses requires an
attractive investment opportunity. Some O&G
companies have also moved into new areas, for
example in renewable power while stepping up
research and development activity. It is noticeable that
all main O&G companies worldwide have already
started energy transitions (Tab. 2).
The INOC and NCO’s companies like Sinopec,
Petro-China, and CNOOC also want to spend billions
on renewable energy assets to stay relevant in a low-
carbon future. The world’s largest oil refiner, Sinopec
wants to lead China’s hydrogen push, with plans for
hydrogen refueling stations alongside its petrol
stations [21]. Sinopec in their annual report states that
under unstable oil price circumstances they will
optimize project implementation, plans to keep a
stable production of crude oil, and realize growth for
natural gas. In natural gas development, the company
will accelerate the capacity construction of key
projects [22]. Petro-China became the first Asian state-
owned company to set a target for near-zero
emissions by 2050 [21], while offshore oil explorer
CNOOC Limited in September 2020 announces the
first offshore wind power project connected to the
grid with 67 wind turbines and 300MW capacity [23].
On the other side, Saudi Aramco has another
target. The company program is to diversify its energy
away from crude oil and liquids for power generation,
plans to be among the world’s top three natural gas
producers. To meet future global and domestic energy
demand. The company’s gas production is expected to
double in the coming decade [29]. Aramco in their
reports states that with the global population forecast
to constant increase, even more energy will be
required to meet rising demand. Aramco predicts that
it will take not only fossil fuels or only renewable, but
all available sources of energy to cover all demand.
While alternative energy sources are steadily making
advances, they will not be capable of meeting future
demand alone [30].
Section 3.1. of this article includes a comparative
correlation between crude oil prices to their extraction
at sea (Fig. 1) and offshore production opex for oil
fields in the main offshore regions (Fig. 2). To the
analysis was taken the Brent Crude as the leading
global price benchmark for Atlantic basin crude oils.
The average cash cost to produce a barrel of oil was
compiled using data from more than 15,000 oil fields
across 20 nations. The production costs were
calculated by including a mix of capital expenditures
and operational expenditures. Capital expenditures
included the costs involved with building oil facilities,
pipelines, and new wells. Operational expenditures
included the costs of lifting oil out of the ground,
paying employee salaries, and general administrative
duties. As a source, we have used UCube by Rystad
Energy, an interactive published with open access
Data used in the analysis in section 3.2. and 3.3
respectively has been acquired from Riglogix -
Westwood’s flagship product [32], Rystad Energy
[31], HIS Markit [33], and Drilling Contractor
Magazine [34]. The intelligence and research
companies offer tools, consultancy services, and
analytics data to the energy industry.
In this section, we have determined the profitability
limits and breakeven price for offshore O&G
production by the comparative analysis of oil prices to
their extraction at sea section 3.1. The analysis of
new-build scrapped and lay-up drilling units, and
their yearly utilization presented in section 3.2,
provides information about the trends of MODU
owners in the O&G offshore market. Section 3.3.
provides analysis between the emergence of new
projects and decommission, both in O&G and wind
offshore. That analysis aims to point out the trends in
offshore transformation.
4.1 Comparative analysis of oil prices to their extraction
at sea
The oil price, in general, refers to the spot price of a
barrel on benchmark crude oil. There is a differential
in the price of a barrel of oil, based on its element
factors such as specific gravity or API gravity, sulfur
content, and location. The leading global price
benchmark for Atlantic basin crude oils is the Brent
Crude. Brent is used to set the price of two-thirds of
the world's internationally traded crude oil supplies.
It is one of the two main benchmark prices for
purchases of oil worldwide, the other one is West
Texas Intermediate (WTI) [38].
Table 2. Investment and strategic responses to energy transitions by selected companies - illustrative, based on 2015-19
activity SOURCE: IEA and major company’s reports ([8],[19],[20],[24],[25],[26],[27],[28])
Company Enhancing traditional Deploying CCUS (for Supplying liquids The transition Overview
O&G Operations Enhanced Oil Recovery and gases for the from fuel to grade
(reducing methane (EOR) and centralized energy transition “energy companies”
& CO2 emission and emissions) (low carbon gases (solar PV, wind and
sourcing of renewable Bio-fuels) other power generation;
power) and advanced electricity distribution
and electrified services)
3 categories 2 categories 2 categories 4 categories All categories
max grade: 3 max grade: 2 max grade: 2 max grade: 4 max grade: 11
BP 2,5 1 1,5 3 8
Chevron 2,5 1,5 1 1 6
Eni 2,5 1 1,5 3,5 8,5
ExxonMobil 2,5 1,5 1 0 5
Shell 3 1,5 1,5 4 10
Total 3 1 2 4 10
CNPC 1 1,5 1 1 4,5
Eqiunor 3 1,5 1 2 7,5
Petrobras 2 2 1,5 2 7,5
Repsol 2,5 1 1 3,5 8
Notes: CCUS - Carbon Capture, Utilization, and Storage - encompasses methods and technologies to remove CO2. The table
is divided into 4 sections which included 11 categories. Each company could get a max of 1 point from each category, in
total 11. One point got a company which supported by strategic investments and/or capital/operational expenditures in
commercial-scale activities; a half point received company which announced strategy and/or minor investments, venture
capital and/or research and development spending; zero means that company has limited evidence of investments activity.
For methane and CO2 emissions, which are not based on project and spending data, assessments reflect the presence and
strength of methane reduction and emissions intensity target, as well as evidence of their implementation, the emission
intensity trend of new investment, transparent reporting of absolute emissions and sources, and linking of executive and
staff compensation to achieving goals. Power generation and efficiency investments in the transition section pertain to
projects destined for commercial sales (not own use). Electrified services include battery storage and EV charging. Low
carbon gases include low-carbon hydrogen and bio-methane.