Abu Dhabi oil company begins North Sea rig decommissioning

The TAQA Group has commenced work on one of the largest decommissioning project undertaken in the North Sea.

They will be removing the 1988 Brae Bravo platform, east of Sumburgh Head off Shetland. The topside platform weighs 36,000 tonnes, with a jacket substructure weighing 22,500 tonnes.

It will be removed in three separate phases in 2021 and 2022, using two of the world’s largest semi-submersible crane vessels (SSCVs).
It will be the first time these vessels have been used in the North Sea. The ships, named Heerema’s Thialf and Sleipnir, are each greater than 200 metres in length.

All waste materials will be transported to the AF Environmental Base in Vats, Norway for processing, aiming for a 95% recycling or reuse target.

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Warning North Sea clean-up costs could spiral

The Oil and Gas Authority published a new decommissioning strategy in which it warns that bills could spiral if action is not taken to improve commercial practices.

The OGA has set a target to reduce the expected costs of decommissioning by £20.7bn by 2022, from the £59.7bn total expected in 2017.

The regulator highlighted the problems caused by lack of collaboration in the North Sea, in which many firms have stakes in fields. These have been compounded by the swings in oil and gas prices triggered by the coronavirus crisis, which have made it harder for firms to develop long-term decommissioning strategies.

The strategy report found the expected cost of decommissioning assets included in the 2017 forecast had fallen to £48bn in 2020. When assets developed since 2017 were included the estimated cost increased to £51bn.

Royal Dutch Shell revealed last month that it was repaid $99 m by the UK Government last year. The costs of decommissioning the huge Brent field more than offset the profits the company made on its North Sea output.

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