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Oil rig decommissioning picking up pace

Oil rig decommission - Oil and Gas UKOil rigs are being decommissioned at a growing rate and providing a £17 billion workload for companies over the next decade.

Trade group, Oil & Gas UK’s 2015 Decommissioning Insight, launched today says 79 platforms are expected to be removed from the North Sea by 2014.

This represents around 17% of some 470 installations that will require decommissioning over the next 30 to 40 years.

Total decommissioning expenditure on the UK Continental Shelf (UKCS) will reach £16.9 billion over the next ten years, the organisation revealed to a sell-out Offshore Decommissioning Conference in St Andrews.

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 £14.6bn 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.

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

She said the industry recognises that while 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”.

She added: “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 programme of capital investment in new developments.

“Oil & Gas UK is doing all it can to help the sector work collectively to realise the potential of this opportunity by ensuring knowledge and expertise is shared.”

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.

It follows the publication last week of guidance to improve the efficiency of inspection and maintenance activities in late-life asset management and decommissioning, as well as, a report Oil & Gas UK and Decom North Sea published jointly to outline good practice in bringing into the UK market new solutions which have the potential to deliver cost reductions and manage activity more effectively.

The key findings of the 2015 Decommissioning Insight are:

– Actual expenditure on decommissioning on the UKCS in 2014 was just over £800 million, with much of the forecast activity completed.
– Total forecast decommissioning expenditure from 2015 to 2024 is £16.9 billion. This is an increase of £2.3 billion on the 2014 report’s ten-year forecast of £14.6 billion, primarily due to 47 new projects
entering this year’s survey.
– The majority of new projects appear towards the end of the 2015 to 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.
– Fifty per cent of the total forecast expenditure will be concentrated in the central North Sea (£8.4 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, and decreased by nearly £750 million to £2.8 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 per cent of the some 470 installations that will require decommissioning over the next 30 to 40 years.
– The largest category of expenditure is well plugging and abandonment (P&A) at 46 per cent of the total forecast expenditure.

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