New Research Revealed at Decommissioning Event

By MarEx 2013-03-26 09:08:00

Research identifying strengths and weaknesses in the oil & gas decommissioning sector will be outlined to delegates attending a new one-day event for the sector taking place in Aberdeen today (Wednesday, March 27)

Decom Offshore 2013is being held by offshore oil & gas decommissioning forum Decom North Sea (DNS) at Aberdeen Exhibition and Conference Centre, to help overcome the challenges facing companies dealing with infrastructure at the end of the lifecycle.

The aim of the day, entitled ‘‘Decom Offshore – Confronting Challenges, Creating Opportunities’, is for operators and major contractors to provide a collaborative view of their main challenges to the industry, and to showcase some of the innovative technologies, techniques and solutions available to help overcome key issues faced in decommissioning projects.   

UK Energy Minister John Hayes is attending the event. He said: “Decommissioning is a relatively new business for the UK and represents an enormous and exciting opportunity for British companies. If we get it right the UK could become a global centre of excellence.

“As the number of projects increases it is also important that we find the most cost effective way to remove oil and gas infrastructure from the North Sea in a safe and environmentally responsible manner.”

Headline results from two recent studies will be shared with the delegates.

DNS chief executive Brian Nixon said: “There has been much speculation recently on the capability and capacity of the oil and gas industry to support forthcoming decommissioning programmes.  Decom North Sea was therefore pleased to partner with the oil and gas team at Scottish Enterprise in order to commission two complementary studies designed to provide some clarity on this issue.

“The first study has mapped out the very diverse range of technologies, skills, services and facilities needed in each phase of decommissioning, and has assessed the industry's capabilities and experience in each area. The project has benefited from a survey of Decom North Sea member companies, a full day facilitated workshop, desk top research plus face to face interviews with industry professionals.  The results, which will be made available on the Decom North Sea website, show a good percentage of companies reporting capability in most decommissioning activities, whereas a much smaller number were able to record having actually proven their technologies or skills in a decommissioning project.

“The report also points to an imbalance across the various phases of decommissioning activity, suggesting greater industry capability in areas like preparation, engineering down, cleaning and onshore disposal, but less capability in wells plugging and abandonment and continuing liability.’’

The second report looks at the key aspects of decommissioning activity in the coming years and makes an assessment of the available industry capacity.  With recently announced increased investments in new capital developments, sustained levels of operational expenditure, a ramping up in offshore wind developments, and growing activity in decommissioning, the report not surprisingly highlights areas where capacity is likely to be particularly tight.  Examples include engineering staff, drilling rigs for wells P&A, and vessels (including heavy lift).

Mr Nixon said: “These complimentary reports will provide a valuable insight into the shape and strength of the industry in advance of a sustained programme of decommissioning across the North Sea.  They will also highlight areas where innovation, capacity building or investment may be required, thus allowing Scottish Enterprise and Decom North Sea to target their support to greatest effect.’’

Speakers include some of the  oil & gas decommissioning sector’s most experienced figures. Richard Brooks, head of offshore decommissioning at DECC, will give an overview of the impact of recent and future regulatory changes, while AMEC’s technical director Evan Williams will focus on the jobs and economic growth arguments. Other presentations will cover health & safety, innovation, jacket & subsea infrastructure removal and entry barriers.   

The day is set up to be highly-interactive with opportunities for supply chain representatives to have one-to-ones with the speakers from operators and leading contractors. And as well as exhibition space showcasing innovation, introductions have been organised between delegates to encourage idea sharing and future collaborations.

The event will, in addition, highlight some of the issues faced by individual companies when trying to enter or expand into the decommissioning market. SMEs will gain an understanding of forthcoming decommissioning projects and timelines, as well as access to key contacts behind these projects and understanding of the challenges that contractors are trying to overcome.

Ernie Booth, Business Development Manager of the event’s principal sponsor, KAEFER, said: “KAEFER recognises it takes excellent communication between operators and the supply chain as well as innovate solutions to deliver effective decommissioning projects and we are very pleased to be supporting Decom Offshore 2013.”  

Following on from Decom Offshore 2013, DNS has organised a member consultation event for March 28 to set out the strategy and main activities it will pursue in coming months. It is also being held at the AECC and will take into account the outcomes of the previous day’s event.

DNS has grown since its inception in 2010, to have more than 200 members drawn from operators, major contractors, service specialists and technology developers. With annual decommissioning expenditure in the North Sea forecast to top £1billion within a few years, DNS was set up to tackle the main areas of weakness, which are inhibiting decommissioning supply-chain capability.

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