Over the next decade, roughly 100 platforms and 7,500km of pipeline on the UK Continental Shelf are earmarked for decommissioning at an estimated cost of £59 billion by 2050. The aim of the Oil & Gas Authority is for this new centre, which is believed to be the first of its kind, to reduce that figure by 35% and to take advantage of the future decommissioning market, forecasted at a value of £17 million.
Scheduled to open towards the end of 2018, the Centre will be based at the Oceanlab situated in the Energetica corridor, which runs from Aberdeen to Peterhead. Recruitment for the Centre will begin in the coming months, initially with a team of 15. It will also develop and deliver cost-effective measures for gas and oil production operations and small piece decommissioning techniques. This project will be industry led and focus on tackling issues such as facilities clean-up and removal, well plugging and abandonment. It will also explore methods to optimise the future design for recycling and reuse, including the use of new materials.
The Centre will utilise existing and on-going research carried out by the University of Aberdeen and innovation centres, which relates to decommissioning, predictive modelling, environmental assessment and the economics of decommissioning. It will also partner with fishing, marine, safety and environment organisations in the UK and Internationally.
Competitive Advantage in Wider Energy Sector
To create a competitive advantage in the Oil and Gas industry is it is vital to merge the knowledge and expertise of industry with academic capability and skills, which is exactly what this project is doing. Additionally, this collaboration will create new opportunities in the wider energy sector such as offshore renewables.
Colette Cohen, Chief Executive Officer, The Oil & Gas Technology Centre, said: “This ground-breaking partnership between the Oil & Gas Technology Centre and the University of Aberdeen will help fundamentally change the way we think about decommissioning. It will drive the technology innovation needed to maximise economic recovery, make sure that facilities are decommissioned efficiently and help the UK create the strong and vibrant supply chain it needs to become a global leader in this growth market.”
“Involvement from companies in oil and gas and other sectors is critical to our success. We are now seeking industry partners with experience, ideas and equipment, who want to co-invest with us to deliver a step change in performance, with support from the Oil & Gas Authority, the Offshore Petroleum Regulator for Environment and Decommissioning, and the Health & Safety Executive.”
Paul Wheelhouse, Scottish Energy Minister, said: “Decommissioning continues to be one of the biggest technical and operational challenges facing the North Sea. The creation of an industry led Decommissioning Centre of Excellence, where industry works in partnership with academia to tackle the current and future challenges, will help create the competitive advantage not only for the oil and gas industry, but for decommissioning challenges in the wider energy sector.”
“Over the next decade, our oil and gas sector must capitalise on a decommissioning market that is forecast to reach £17bn and we must ensure that our world class Scottish supply chain continues to develop its competitive capabilities, become a recognised champion of decommissioning excellence, and to develop world leading expertise that can be exported.”
“The Scottish Government, through investing up to £250m in the Aberdeen City Region Deal, alongside the UK Government, is committed to working alongside this innovative and dynamic sector to establish a Decommissioning Centre of Excellence and to support the supply chain here in Scotland.”