UK set for decommissioning surge from 2019 onward

Offshore staff

FAVERSHAM, UK – The UK will dominate spending on decommissioning in the years ahead, according to a new report from Douglas-Westwood (DW).

The North Sea Decommissioning Market Forecast 2016-2040 predicts that costs could exceed $50 billion if current removal methods or applied, reducing to $43 billion through increased take-up of specialist lift vessels (SLVs) such as Allseas’ new Pioneering Spirit.

Extra-large platforms would be the most costly using current techniques, the analyst claims. The most common decommissioning method – reverse installation – is established and secure, but time-consuming.

SLVs can complete lifts faster, lowering offshore costs substantially. But first the Pioneering Spirit must prove itself and be embraced by the industry, DW says, before other SLVs are commissioned.

DW expects 146 platforms to be removed from UK waters during 2019-2026 – 51% of all UK platform removals over the forecast period. Many are elderly facilities with an average age of more than 20 years, which are uneconomic at current commodity prices due to their higher maintenance costs and the expensive production techniques required for mature fields.

But many of the largest platforms will also remain in place until the 2030s, the analyst predicts, due to the addition of tiebacks increasing production late in field life.


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