Peaks and troughs ahead for UK North Sea decommissioning

Offshore staff

NORWICH, UK – Operators and service companies must collaborate and embrace new technology to cut the cost of UK offshore decommissioning, according to the Decommissioning Special Interest Group (SIG).

This is an association run by the East of England Energy Group and Decom North Sea.

SIG Chairman Julian Manning, speaking at a recent suppliers’ meeting in Sprowton Manor, pointed out that Britain’s Oil and Gas Authority (OGA) has targeted a 40% reduction of the estimated £47-billion ($69-billion) bill for removing Britain’s redundant oil and gas platforms.

“The peaks and troughs in activity that are forecasted must be flattened out to make the program as efficient as possible for everybody,” he said. “We know there is a big opportunity.”

Karen Seath, interim CEO of Decom North Sea, forecasted peaks in activity during 2017-19 and in the late 2020s. “We need to look at cost efficiency and cost effectiveness and focus on better ways of working,” she said.

Nearly 80 UK platforms are due to be decommissioned by 2024, around 17% of the total, she added, stressing that some operators had deferred their plans in order to save money.

Decom North Sea expects removal of platforms to account for around 19% of the total expenditure with well plugging and abandonment comprising nearly half the overall costs.

Bill Cattanach, head of the OGA’s Oil and Gas Industry and Technology Department, said OGA was investigating how to flatten the peaks and troughs for an even flow of work for the supply chain. One operator had managed to cut its P&A costs by 40%.

One innovative approach, he suggested, could be to employ the jackup vessels used for offshore wind installations to “nibble away” at platforms rather than bringing in traditional heavy lifters, mostly based in Holland.


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