Aberdeen continues to be a world leader in the decommissioning sector and will soon add to its arsenal of world class equipment a ‘decommission suite’, to be completed this summer at the National Decommissioning Centre.
Decommissioning is going to play a huge part in the economy over the coming decades. Industry body Oil & Gas UK estimates 15bn pounds will be spent on decommission work in the next ten years while Oil & Gas Authority reckons a total of 58bn pounds could be spent on decommissioning in the North Sea.
The Decommissioning Suite
Stephen Sheal, External Relationship Director at the Oil and Gas Technology Centre, gave some insight into what to expect from the new decommissioning suite.
“What it is doing is giving you the ability to simulate actual decommissioning work before you do it with up-to-the minute visualisation.”
The OGTC established the NDC in partnership with Aberdeen University. Mr Sheal described the decommissioning suite as something that will become a “novel” and “important” asset in the decommissioning process.
“Instead of just graphically simulating a vessel or a facility offshore you’ll be able to actually use the physics involved with some of these facilities, so a ship for example, there’ll be a library of available ships in the program that are true to the physics of a particular vessel. Likewise with cranes, you’ll be able to select a particular crane type and place it on a ship and then notice how the ship actually behaves in the sea, so you can see whether you’re able to actually lift certain pieces of equipment.”
The decommissioning suite is being built at the NDC in Newburgh. After it’s constructed there will be a process of uploading all the data before it’s ready for use.
Oil giant Shell calculates it has 470 installations to be decommissioned in the UK sector while industry expert’s reckon there are a total of 670 installations to be removed from the North Sea.
A rough target set by Shell to complete its decommission obligations is thirty to forty years. When pressed on the exact length of time decommissioning will take, Mr Sheal’s response was hazy: “How long’s a piece of string?
“The law says we need to remove facilities top side and sub-surface and restore the environment back to the condition before we began operations. That indeed has started and been going on for a number of years now.
“There are certain decommissioning projects which will be absolutely conducted to schedule. Others might be delayed for a number of reasons. It could be from a production perspective. You could get more oil and gas out of a particular facility. It could be the price of oil and gas has gone up so you’ll keep producing for a little bit longer, but there is a plan to decommission most of the assets offshore.”