A dynamic future for decommissioning

Louise Davis

Exciting, challenging and busy times are ahead for the North Sea decommissioning industry.  Nigel Jenkins reports.

The decommissioning industry is dynamic – and I mean that in every sense of the word. It doesn’t stand still. By its very nature, it’s a growing business that is new to many, and misinterpreted by even more. It is also a sector that is full of opportunity; the opportunity to win business and limitless opportunities to problem solve through innovation.

Most recently, the future of decommissioning has been set into context by The Wood Review and the Scottish Government Total Value Added (TVA) Report. Both highlight the requirement for a wide reaching decommissioning strategy complimenting MER-UK, and the promotion of cost reduction, innovation, planning and co-operation. In other words, a body that will encourage - and manage - this dynamism.

Anyone involved with Decom North Sea knows that the reports’ recommendations align with our strategy. Maximum economic extension of field life and minimum associated costs are high on the decommissioning agenda and through experience, DNS is uniquely positioned to meet these challenges. By seeking highly experienced decommissioning professionals as its members and creating partnerships across Europe, DNS is dedicated to ensuring that the North Sea decommissioning industry continually works towards the key objectives outlined in these recent reports.

We exist to develop and drive decommissioning planning and execution as effectively and efficiently as possible. We promote collaboration, we encourage knowledge sharing, we contribute to, respond to and interpret legislation - and we are constantly developing beneficial models, standards and guidelines for the benefit of the decommissioning sector. Above all, Decom North Sea’s main objective is to facilitate the most efficient and cost effective end of asset life solution development and delivery, to the benefit of both industry and ultimately the tax payer. The Wood Review demands ‘game changing’ solutions. Decom North Sea has been 100% dedicated to finding those solutions in recent years and our track record indicates that we are set to continuing leading the field in that respect.

Informing the future

Predicted figures for offshore decommissioning within the next ten years eclipse the activity of previous decade. And of course, a growth in activity increases the requirement for streamlined and coordinated decommissioning programmes, standardised contracts and the continued interrogation of market intelligence and lessons learnt. Without them, the opportunity for meaningful collaboration and cost efficiency will be lost.

As the decommissioning workload and associated opportunities increase, it is vital that we work to keep the channels of communication and information open and easy to navigate for all those involved.

Decom North Sea currently facilitates all of the above, through a variety of project initiatives, workshops, member surveys, face-to-face meetings and conferences. Promoting communication and collaboration between operators and the supply chain has been at the heart of our strategy and we are set to increase the opportunities for engagement. We have identified that the purpose of this collaboration is changing, as we must move onwards from the ‘talking and sharing’ phase and into the ‘impact’ era.  So our task now is to translate the commitment to effective decommissioning that we’ve already witnessed, into successful efficient implementation and execution.

Delivering the future

Decommissioning isn’t about working in isolation, it requires co-operation with between operators, the supply chain and government bodies such as the Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) and Oil & Gas UK. Decom North Sea makes certain of their involvement at every stage of the process, thus ensuring that decision quality improves, that different perspectives inform creative solutions and that assurance, encouragement and support are always available along the decommissioning journey.

A successful decommissioning industry must benefit from streamlined, standardised processes. Through implementation of a structured Decom Template, together with a streamlined Decom Programme and Decom Planning Framework – DNS is smoothing and managing the required transition from the traditional ‘Appraise, Define, Select and Execute’ model, and introducing a new ‘Retirement’ phase. We are also engaging closely with several of our partners to create a new standard form of contract for all decommissioning projects - safeguarding future activity and business benefits across the sector.

Willingness to share

Historically, information sharing is not a popular pastime within the oil and gas industry. However, for decommissioning activity to succeed, that attitude has to change. DNS has made significant strides in this, encouraging members to share both market intelligence and lessons learned in a number of arenas, from conferences and DNS-led projects, to collaborative activity, the likes of which seek to promote multiparty Well P&A cost reduction and so on.

DNS is recognised across industry as the trusted forum which plays a vital role in the decommissioning of oil and gas assets. As such, it attracts some of the most experienced decommissioning experts as members, all of whom are dedicated to making the UK a centre of excellence for decommissioning. It’s worth noting that across the industry a huge amount of initiative activity is currently taking place. The challenge we seek to meet in the coming months and years is to ensure these initiatives are aligned, do not duplicate effort and will result in meaningful implementation. We are collaborating with a variety of industry bodies, NOF, HIE and Oil & Gas UK, together with DECC and in time the newly created Oil & Gas Authority to achieve this goal. Our insight into, and reputation within, the decommissioning industry makes Decom North Sea the obvious choice to lead decommissioning into the next era.

The strong inclusive ethos generated by DNS is the context in which all successful future decommissioning activity must be set. Our experience tells us that this will deliver enthusiasm, commitment and involvement at all levels, which in turn will generate a streamlined output and collaborative attitudes at a time when decommissioning activity looks likely to increase. Decom North Sea has the credentials to ensure the optimum future for decommissioning.

Nigel Jenkins is Chief Executive of Decom North Sea (DNS),  Aberdeen , Scotland.

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