Survey indicates steady growth in UK decommissioning sector

Offshore staff

LONDON – The UK oil and gas industry’s decommissioning sector is growing at a steady pace, according to Oil & Gas UK’s 2015 Decommissioning Insight. The survey forecasts total decommissioning expenditure on the UK continental shelf will reach £16.9 billion ($25.6 billion) over the next decade (2015-2024).

Oonagh Werngren, Oil & Gas UK’s operations director, said: “This year, 28 operator companies responded to the survey. While they forecast an increase in expenditure compared with the £14.6 billion [$22.1 billion] recorded in 2014, the increase is primarily due to new projects entering the 10-year survey timeframe rather than increased cost estimates from existing projects.

“Over the next decade, 79 platforms are forecasted for removal across the UK continental shelf, representing around 17% of some 470 installations that will require decommissioning over the next 30 to 40 years.

“The survey confirms there are a small number of major decommissioning projects under way with well P&A activities representing the largest category of expenditure, with over 1,200 wells scheduled for work over the next decade.

“While the industry recognizes decommissioning activities are steadily growing, its focus is to maintain offshore production in the North Sea for as long as it’s safe and economically possible to do. The key to sustaining the health of the sector is to take the initiative now to help an efficient decommissioning market emerge as part of, and alongside, the industry’s continued and sustained program of capital investment in new developments.

“Oil & Gas UK is doing all it can to help the sector work collectively to realize the potential of this opportunity by ensuring knowledge and expertise is shared. Accordingly, this year’s survey has been expanded to include analysis of the oil price impact on decommissioning and information about the cost per (metric) ton for activities involved in making sure facilities are safe for removal such as cleaning, freeing equipment of hydrocarbons, disconnection, and physical isolation. This edition also includes a deeper analysis of floating, production, storage and offloading vessels (FPSO) decommissioning projects.”

The Decommissioning Insight is the latest in a series of documents Oil & Gas UK has published to help the industry prepare for forthcoming decommissioning projects and increase the efficiency of activities.

The key findings of the survey are as follows:

  • Actual expenditure on decommissioning on the UKCS in 2014 was more than £800 million ($1.2 billion), with much of the forecast activity completed.
  • The majority of new projects appear toward the end of the 2015-2024 timeframe, with nearly two-thirds of the associated expenditure occurring post-2020. Technological advances and improved production cost efficiency could defer the timing of decommissioning for these projects.
  • Expenditure forecasts for existing projects, included in both the 2014 and 2015 surveys, have remained consistent. Future cost reduction can be anticipated as the low oil price, improved decommissioning experience and the work of Oil & Gas UK’s Efficiency Task Force take full effect.
  • 50% of the total forecast expenditure will be concentrated in the central North Sea (£8.4 billion or $12.7 billion). Thirty-two of the new projects are in this region.
  • Since the 2014 report, total forecast expenditure in the central North Sea and northern North Sea/west of Shetland regions has increased by £3 billion to £14.1 billion ($4.5 billion to $14.1 billion), and decreased by nearly £750 million to £2.8 billion ($4.2 billion) in the southern North Sea and Irish Sea.
  • Over the next decade, 79 platforms are forecast for removal across the UKCS. This represents almost 17% of the some 470 installations that will require decommissioning over the next 30 to 40 years.
  • The largest category of expenditure is P&A at 46% of the total forecast expenditure.


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