Why should you care about decommissioning?

Wednesday 13 August 2014

Decommissioning and abandonment (D&A) activity in the UK is picking up pace and projects are increasingly centred around tackling this challenge following the Wood Review.

For limited company contractors in the oil and gas sector, the number of opportunities this creates is huge, according to DecomWorld. In 'Offshore asset retirement: projects, trends, opportunities & the shift in North Sea decommissioning', the company explained that because the market is still in its infancy and undergoing a "seismic shift", contractors can reap the benefits.

DecomWorld claims there are five reasons why you should care about D&A. In the first instance, following the Wood Review there is a lot of emphasis being placed on maximising North Sea resources. This means D&A needs to be viewed from the perspective of end of field life management to ensure resources are being maximised. Contactors will play a key role in making this happen.

What's more, where D&A is happening, there is a "critical need" to reduce costs. Currently activity in the North Sea is approaching £35 billion and professionals who can offer innovative ways to control costs will be in high demand.


DecomWorld explained that when it comes to the grand scheme of things in oil and gas, it's never been a more important time, with 478 platforms requiring removal before 2045. For some contractors, this will make up their lives' work over the next few decades.


However, there are barriers ahead. There are currently resource bottlenecks, which are putting pressure on the decommissioning supply chain. DecomWorld claims allocating resources up front can prevent this and action needs to be taken swiftly.


Upfront planning will also be crucial to "identify synergies and cost efficiencies". This will depend on increasing integration and collaboration, so contractors will need to demonstrate their ability to work with multiple stakeholders effectively.


Nonetheless, contractors need to be aware of the challenge ahead. The North Sea is a uniquely challenging area when it comes to D&A. The Royal Academy of Engineering has previously explained that the hub is one of the harshest maritime environments.

Infrastructure is primarily made up of production platforms supported by gravity-based concrete foundations or steel frames.

In total it is estimated that eight installations with large concrete substructures, 31 installations with large steel jackets, 223 other steel jackets, 280 subsea production systems, 21 floating production systems, and over 3,000 pipelines and around 5,000 wells will need to be decommissioned.

However, under regulations the disposal of offshore installations cannot be done at sea and the topsides of all installations need to be returned to shore. Subsea structures weighing less than 10,000 tonnes also needed to be completely removed. This presents a sizable challenge, although all structures installed before 1999 are exempt due to their weight and will be considered on an individual basis.

By Victoria McDonnell

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