Dundee and Invergordon ports tool-up for big slices of £17 billion N. Sea decommissioning pie

More than 200 platforms are forecast for complete or partial removal from the North Sea between now and 2025 in a decommissioning market worth some £17 billion.

And some 2,500 wells are expected to be plugged and abandoned and nearly 7,800 kilometres of pipeline are forecast to be decommissioned over the same period, according to the latest market intelligence forecast published the offshore oil and gas industry trade body.

Simultaneously, major investments and developments in decommissioning facilities have been announced by the ports of Dundee and Invergordon in anticipation of winning new business in this end-of-life market.

Mike Tholen, Oil & Gas UK upstream policy director, said: “With industry driving efficiency improvements which have led to a 16 per cent increase in North Sea production following a decade of decline, the sector is successfully controlling the cost of well plugging and abandonment.

“The Decommissioning Insight reveals that the average forecast cost for well P&A has fallen by five per cent in the central and northern North Sea and west of Shetland, and by four per cent in the southern North Sea and Irish Sea with further cost reductions predicted as the sector ensures decommissioning is carried out as cost- effectively as possible, while maintaining high safety and environmental standards.”

Invergordon harbour
Invergordon harbour

Meanwhile, Port of Cromarty Firth has become the first Scottish port to be granted a decommissioning pollution prevention control permit.

Issued by the Scottish Environment Protection Agency (Sepa), the permit covers almost the whole of the port’s Invergordon Service Base. It allows for the processing of 50,000 tonnes of waste material per year.

Investment in a new quayside at the Port’s Invergordon Service Base means the port has three berths and 80,000 square metres of laydown space ready to accept decommissioning projects.

General manager Captain Calum Slater said: “The Cromarty Firth has a world-class supply chain experienced in rig repair and maintenance projects, meaning the skills are already in place to tackle the dismantling and recycling of the largest oil and gas structures.  

“The Port is ideally located in the North Sea. Our status as a Trust Port, together with our proven environmental record, ensures platforms will be decommissioned in a way that meets the latest environmental standards

“We are already in discussions with customers who have structures to decommission and I can see the first of the new era coming to the Firth next year.”

“Other ports are aligning to a single contractor, but we’re doing the opposite to provide customers more flexibility and choice.  Our open port philosophy will allow any reputable client, operator or contractor to use the Port’s decommissioning licence”

And the port of Dundee has been boosted by the decision of Well-Safe Solutions, an Aberdeen-based well abandonment specialist, to locate its onshore marine base on the Tay estuary.

Dundee, which is rapidly establishing itself as a North Sea decommissioning hub, will provide Well-Safe Solutions with direct access to deep water quaysides, heavy lifting capabilities, significant dedicated warehouse space and unconstrained access into the established and operating ANSS decommissioning facilities.

At the port, Well-Safe will work alongside AF Offshore Decom, as part of the soon to be formed AF Dundee, waste management specialist Augean North Sea Services (ANSS), and other decommissioning operators.

The company has secured two acres of quayside facilities with access to 40,000 square feet of covered space at Port of Dundee for its marine assets.

Phil Milton, chief executive of Well-Safe Solutions, who is originally from Dundee welcomed the transformation of his home town in recent years.

He said: “This marine support base in Dundee will play a crucial role in supporting our rapidly growing business. We have chosen the Port of Dundee because of the critical mass of decommissioning companies already based here and the facilities on offer.

“Personally, I’m very pleased to be able to bring business to the community in which I started out. Dundee continues its ongoing development, growing its economy and introducing new businesses with a proactive, refreshing, can-do approach.”

29 Nov 2017

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