Register for a free trial
Offshore Support Journal

Offshore Support Journal

More than 300 fields in North Sea will see decommissioning activity by 2025

Tue 09 Jan 2018

More than 300 fields in North Sea will see decommissioning activity by 2025
In the 2017-2025 period close to 2,500 wells are expected to be plugged and abandoned

An insight into how the North Sea decommissioning market will take shape over the next seven years was one of two key guides launched at a decommissioning conference organised by Oil & Gas UK and Decom North Sea


Speaking at the two-day conference, sponsored by Aberdeen Harbour Board, Oil & Gas UK’s upstream policy director Mike Tholen said “Now in its eighth year, we’ve broadened the scope of the 2017 issue of our popular Decommissioning Insight so that it now includes decommissioning activities off Norway, Denmark and the Netherlands as well as those on the UK Continental Shelf (UKCS). This additional information will help the supply chain better understand the demand for their service and expertise from now until 2025.”

Key findings of the 2017 Decommissioning Insight include the fact that, from 2017 to 2025, decommissioning is forecast to take place on 349 fields across the four regions of the North Sea, including six fields on the Danish Continental Shelf, 23 fields on the Norwegian Continental Shelf (NCS), 106 fields on the Dutch Continental Shelf and 214 fields on the UKCS.

Across these regions, the infrastructure scheduled for decommissioning includes more than 200 platforms forecast for complete or partial removal, close to 2,500 wells expected to be plugged and abandoned and nearly 7,800 km of pipeline forecast to be decommissioned.

When set against this wider context, the forecast for the UK reveals it is the largest market with decommissioning, as a proportion of total UKCS expenditure, increasing from 2% in 2010 to 7% in 2016, when the market was worth £1.2Bn (US$1.6Bn). Operators forecast this figure will rise to 11% (£1.8Bn) this year.

From 2017 to 2025, £17Bn is forecast to be spent on decommissioning on the UKCS.

Annual expenditure on the UKCS is forecast to remain consistent over the near term at £1.7–2Bn per year, which compares with £400–800M on the NCS and a forecast of £650–800M on the Dutch Continental Shelf.

£7.9Bn (46%) of the total UKCS decommissioning spend from 2017 to 2025 will be concentrated in the central North Sea.

The largest category of expenditure on the UKCS in the 2017–2025 timeframe is well plugging and abandonment at 49% (£8.3Bn).

“With industry driving efficiency improvements that have led to a 16% increase in UKCS production following a decade of decline, the sector is successfully controlling the cost of well plugging and abandonment,” Mr Tholen said.

“The insight reveals that the average forecast cost for well P&A has fallen by 5% in the central and northern North Sea and west of Shetland and by 4% 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.”

Lessons learned from decommissioning projects since 2012 are gathered in Oil & Gas UK’s The Decommissioning of Steel Piled Jackets in the North Sea Region report, which updates industry intelligence for decommissioning this type of offshore platform.

The report captures the experience gained from 63 projects that have been decommissioned to date. Advances in health and safety, environment and technology, including cutting and lifting solutions, are among areas highlighted.

“These reports demonstrate the UK’s growing expertise in decommissioning, and these capabilities have been developing alongside the industry’s focus on more productive activities in oil and gas production,” Mr Tholen concluded. “They highlight that there is a very real opportunity for the UK’s decommissioning sector to develop competitive capabilities and become a champion of decommissioning excellence in the global arena.”

Dredging gives decom ships 24-hour access to expanding Able facility

The Able Group in the UK has strengthened its position as an offshore recycling facility with a £6M (US$8.1M) investment at its Able Seaton Port facility on the River Tees.

A major recently completed upgrade and dredging programme means that it is able to offer enhanced facilities for a range of activities, including marine decommissioning, offshore wind installations and handling large-scale project cargo.

This latest phase of the investment at Able Seaton Port has included extensive dredging works that, with a depth of -9.5m CD, will provide 24-hour sea access for the majority of vessels.

Related articles





Knowledge bank

View all