Decommissioning Insight 2019


Regulation — While industry is continually developing its competency in decommissioning, its regulators are similarly increasing their experience. Well-informed regulatory oversight ensures decommissioning policy remains fit for purpose, is conducted efficiently and meets the needs of society at large. Government — The UK government’s proactive support for developing decommissioning capability is welcomed, affirming the UK to be a global hub for decommissioning. In addition, the Scottish Government has recently launched the fourth round of the Decommissioning Challenge Fund (DCF). The DCF was announced by the First Minister in 2017 and has conducted three successful application calls between 2017 and 2019 to underpin Scotland’s eminence in this field. To date, grant offers totalling £10.3 million have been made to 28 projects and partnerships. 11 Building the infrastructure to support the domestic market helps support the internationalisation of a home-grown capability. Technology — Supporting technology development in the UK demonstrates the commitment to become a global hub for decommissioning. It also provides the opportunity for new entrants into the supply chain, rooted in the UK but with the ability to export globally. The development of new tools equipment, and methodologies designed to make current practices more efficient (e.g. quicker cuts, quicker lifts, larger lifts etc.) will enable incremental gains and, as well as cost reduction, also play a role in achieving safety and environmental improvements for decommissioning projects. The Oil and Gas Technology Centre (OGTC) is focused on driving innovation which include helping the industry reduce the overall cost of decommissioning by 35 per cent and to create a strong supply chain that will service this demand. The OGTC has already co-invested in 18 projects with industry, from alternative buoyancy techniques for removing structures through to innovative lifting devices for decommissioning. These projects are driven through the organisation’s ten-year strategy and supporting decommissioning solution centre roadmap, 12 which ensures the OGTC continues to focus on technology projects that will truly move the dial on UK North Sea challenges. Academia — Academia is energising a new workforce while supporting R&D initiatives that can shape the way we do things in decommissioning. As universities continue to provide focus on this sector, fresh and diverse thinking will positively impact the industry. To help inspire and educate the future decommissioning workforce, various initiatives have been introduced. 2017 saw the introduction of the world’s first MSc in Decommissioning, offered by the University of Aberdeen. Designed in collaboration with operators, supply chain companies and regulators, this is a positive step in educating those who wish to pursue a career in the discipline. Furthermore, Robert Gordon University — also located in Aberdeen — provides a short course on ‘Planning for Decommissioning.’ This has been developed with the OGA, BEIS and the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) to provide students with a detailed understanding of the legislation in decommissioning. As well as developing skills in the future workforce, academia also plays a role in research and development. Operators, the supply chain and regulators must be well connected with academic institutions in the UK and beyond to encourage emphasis on relevant areas of R&D. The National Decommissioning Centre (NDC) provides this conduit between industry and academia. The NDC was set up in 2018 with an ambition to become the global leader in research and development which transforms oil and gas decommissioning and mature field management. It now has several ongoing R&D projects such as underwater laser-cutting technologies, a barrier verification chamber for well decommissioning, studies on jacket fatigue and life extension and wind-farm decommissioning. As well as working on R&D, the NDC also provides a number of funded PhD opportunities and Continued Professional Development (CPD) courses to introduce people to offshore decommissioning.

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