The University of Aberdeen and the Oil & Gas Technology Centre will create a new multi-million-pound Decommissioning Centre of Excellence to tackle current and future challenges with world-class research and development in partnership with industry.
Over the next decade, around 100 platforms and 7,500 kilometres of pipeline on the UK Continental Shelf are forecast for decommissioning, with costs estimated to be £59 billion to 2050. The industry aims to reduce this figure by 35%, a target set by the Oil & Gas Authority.
Decommissioning is a significant technical and operational challenge, and also a valuable opportunity for supply chain companies and technology developers in Scotland, and across the UK, to develop the capability to meet domestic and global demand.
In partnership with companies, the Centre of Excellence will 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 current challenges such as facilities 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.
It will build on the established research and development capability at the University of Aberdeen in the areas of decommissioning technologies, predictive modelling, environmental assessment and the economics of decommissioning.
It will connect with and leverage the capabilities of universities and innovation centres across the country and partner with fishing, marine, safety and environment organisations in the UK and internationally.
Linking industry demand and expertise with academic capability and skills will help create competitive advantage, not only for the oil and gas industry, but for decommissioning challenges in the wider energy sector, for example, in offshore renewables.
Scheduled to open in late 2018, the Centre will be based at the University’s Oceanlab facility, located in the Energetica corridor, which stretches from Aberdeen to Peterhead. Recruitment will begin in the coming months, with a team of around 15 people initially expected.
Oceanlab already has a comprehensive range of testing equipment, including indoor immersion tanks and a hyperbaric pressure vessel, for certifying new technology and testing solutions that could drive down the cost of decommissioning.
Professor Mike Greaves, Senior Vice-Principal, University of Aberdeen said:
“We are delighted to partner with the Oil & Gas Technology Centre on what is believed to be the world’s first Centre of Excellence for Decommissioning.
“The University of Aberdeen is at the forefront of research and teaching in decommissioning, with a multi-disciplinary approach that addresses all of the key aspects, from engineering to legal, regulatory and environmental considerations.
“The new Centre of Excellence is an exciting opportunity to build a world-class research and development facility right here in the north-east of Scotland, and we are looking forward to helping develop the innovation, expertise and skills that will play an important role in the future of the industry both here and internationally.”
Colette Cohen, Chief Executive Officer, The Oil & Gas Technology Centre said:
The new Centre of Excellence is an exciting opportunity to build a world-class research and development facility right here in the north-east of Scotland" Professor Mike Greaves, Senior Vice-Principal
“This ground-breaking partnership between the Oil & Gas Technology Centre and the University of Aberdeen will help fundamentally change the way we think about decommissioning. It will drive the technology innovation needed to maximise economic recovery, make sure that facilities are decommissioned efficiently and help the UK create the strong and vibrant supply chain it needs to become a global leader in this growth market.
“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 coinvest with us to deliver a step change in performance, with support from the Oil & Gas Authority, the Offshore Petroleum Regulator for Environment and Decommissioning, and the Health & Safety Executive.”
Claire Perry, UK Energy Minister said:
“This new Decommissioning Centre of Excellence is a great example of how the £250m Aberdeen City Region Deal is helping to support the oil and gas sector, building on the impressive work of the Oil & Gas Technology Centre that I visited recently.
“Decommissioning is a global challenge and opportunity for the UK supply chain which industry estimates could be worth up to £23 billion over the next five years. The collaboration between industry and academia on innovative technology is central to the government’s Industrial Strategy and advancements in decommissioning developed and supported by the Centre will lead to new export opportunities for UK businesses helping to create the highvalue, high-skilled jobs of the future.”
Paul Wheelhouse, Scottish Energy Minister, said: “Decommissioning continues to be one of the biggest technical and operational challenges facing the North Sea. The creation of an industry led Decommissioning Centre of Excellence, where industry works in partnership with academia to tackle the current and future challenges, will help create the competitive advantage not only for the oil and gas industry, but for decommissioning challenges in the wider energy sector. “Over the next decade, our oil and gas sector must capitalise on a decommissioning market that is forecast to reach £17 billion and we must ensure that our world class Scottish supply chain continues to develop its competitive capabilities, become a recognised champion of decommissioning excellence, and to develop world leading expertise that can be exported.
“The Scottish Government, through investing up to £250 million in the Aberdeen City Region Deal, alongside the UK Government, is committed to working alongside this innovative and dynamic sector to establish a Decommissioning Centre of Excellence and to supporting the supply chain here in Scotland.”
Sir Ian Wood GBE, Chairman of private sector led and funded economic development body Opportunity North East, said:
“Innovation in decommissioning will help to maximise the oil and gas opportunity for the region, which is central to the Economic Renaissance Strategy. The Decommissioning Centre of Excellence aims to have a transformational impact on efficiency, cost effectiveness and safety, driving industry innovation and establishing our region as a major centre of decommissioning knowledge worldwide. This will help anchor a globally active supply chain with high value jobs in the region for the long term.”
Cllr Jim Gifford, leader of Aberdeenshire Council and chair of the City Region Deal Joint Committee said: "Decommissioning is fundamental to the future of our region, and I am pleased to see the City Region Deal supporting another essential strand of work which will anchor a new generation of talent here.
“The model will build on an established research base which, if it can help deliver the sort of projected savings required on the cost of decommissioning, will have a huge impact. It will provide yet another reason for the world to look to Aberdeen and Aberdeenshire for excellence and expertise. "The Centre is built on a principle that sits at the heart of our City Region Deal, leveraging knowledge as well as well as partnering across sectors. We look forward to watching the Centre grow and develop."
Cllr Douglas Lumsden, Co-Leader of Aberdeen City Council, said:
“The Oil & Gas Technology Centre is a key part of the £826million Aberdeen City Region Deal and the latest announcement demonstrates the approach being taken to support and encourage innovation.
“The energy sector will continue to be at the heart of the region’s economy. Decommissioning is part of that future and presents an opportunity to utilise the expertise and knowledge we have, building on Aberdeen’s global reputation as an engineering hub. “This is another example of partnership working in action and Aberdeen City Council views that collaborative approach as vital to ensuring a prosperous economic outlook.”
Author: Robert Turbyne