Off-Grid Microgrid to Power Oil and Gas Operations in Tunisia

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Italian multinational energy corporation ENI is building an off-grid, solar-storage microgrid at an oil and gas facility in Tunisia and integrating it with existing, on-site natural gas generation.

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All the energy produced by the off-grid microgrid will be used to power the facility’s upstream operations.

Metka EGN, a wholly owned subsidiary of Greece’s Mytilineos, is providing engineering, procurement and construction (EPC) services that will result in the deployment of the 5-MW solar PV and lithium-ion battery energy storage sysstem. Located at ENI Tunisia’s ADAM oil concession, in what’s known as the Tataouine governate of Tunisia, the microgrid is expected to come online in early 2020.

“The energy produced will be consumed on-site, enabling the upstream operations to significantly reduce gas consumption and therefore avoiding 6,500 metric tons/year of CO2 equivalent emissions,” said Antigoni Fakou, Metka spokesperson.

The project also is expected to improve efficiency and lower costs, according to the project partners.

Metka will build, operate and maintain the microgrid for two years, then transfer operations and maintenance to ENI. 

Mytilineos has been doing an increasing amount of solar-storage microgrid development since acquiring Metka and establishing a presence in the Mediterranean region and in developing markets, Africa in particular.

Another subsidiary, Metka Power West Africa is building off-grid microgrids at four Nigerian universities.

Renewables for oil and gas

Metka also is working with Total Eren, a subsidiary of the French oil and gas and energy services multinational, on two community solar power projects in Kazakhstan with a combined peak capacity of 128 MW. Metka announced the turn-key EPC contracts July 10.

The first project, dubbed Nomad, is a 28-MW solar PV plant for the Kazakh village of Zhalagash. Nomad consists of eight production substations and 83,592 PV modules across 182 acres.

The second, M-KAT, is a 100-MW PV plant located adjacent to the village of Shu. M-KAT encompasses 24 production substations and 298,485 PV modules spanning 812 acres, according to Mytilineos.

Both sites are being outfitted with moncrystalline PV modules and central inverters, as well as single-axis solar trackers, the first time the technology is being used in Kazakhstan.

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Meeting climate goals

ENI, along with other major European integrated oil and gas multinationals such as Total, has been ramping up its investments in the distributed renewable energy and microgrid market space to accrue a range of benefits. For example, the projects help the oil and gas companies meet European Union and United Nations greenhouse gas emissions and climate change goals.

Along with California-based ETAP, ENI completed a 10-MW solar PV plant in Tatouine in May, a project the consortium won following a public tender conducted by the Tunisian government. Akin to the solar microgrid being built by Metka, the plant is integrated with the existing natural-gas turbines on the site. Unlike the Metka project, the solar is connected to Tunisia’s national grid and is expected to provide more than 20 GWh per year.

ENI has been working in Tunisia since 1960, when it signed an oil-and-gas exploration, production, distribution and marketing agreement with Agip, Tunisia’s national oil and gas company. ENI currently operates in the oil, gas and electricity sectors in the country.

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