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Facility planned to bring down the costs of offshore decommissioning

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The Oil & Gas Technology Centre (OGTC) is partnering with the University of Aberdeen and industry on a ‘multi-million pound venture’ to tackle challenges in decommissioning. For the project, the group is building a 'Decommissioning Centre of Excellence' at the University of Aberdeen's Oceanlab facility.

According to the Oil & Gas Authority, there are over 250 fixed installations, over 250 subsea production systems, over 3,000 pipelines and approximately 5,000 wells currently on the UK Continental Shelf. Decommissioning costs are estimated to reach £47 billion (€53.7 billion) by 2050. The OGA aims to reduce this figure by 35%.

The Centre of Excellence’s goal will be to develop and deploy technology that delivers cost effective decommissioning at the end of field life and during oil and gas production operations, including ‘small piece’ decommissioning techniques.

The centre will be industry led, focusing on challenges like facility clean-up and removal, and well plugging and abandonment. It will also explore opportunities to optimise future design for recycling and reuse, including the use of new materials.

Offshore renewables could also benefit from the initiative.

OGTC chief executive Colette Cohen says that they already have support from the Oil & Gas Authority, the Offshore Petroleum Regulator for Environment and Decommissioning, and the Health & Safety Executive for the project.

Research and development capability at the University of Aberdeen will assist the centre in areas like decommissioning technologies, predictive modelling, environmental assessment and the economics of decommissioning. The OGTC is looking to connect with and leverage the capabilities of other universities, innovation centres, and fishing, marine, safety and environment organisations to further the centre’s capabilities.

The University’s Oceanlab facility already has a range of testing equipment, including indoor immersion tanks and a hyperbaric pressure vessel for certifying new technology and testing solutions.

Chief executive Colette Cohen said in a statement: “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”.