The decommissioning of offshore oil and gas assets within UK waters is continuing to grow, with spending set to reach £17 billion (US$26 bn) within the next decade.
The news comes after the results of a recent joint report by UK industry bodies ‘Oil & Gas UK’ and ‘Decom North Sea’.
The report found that, as much of the UK’s ageing offshore infrastructure nears its end of life, planed spending on decommissioning by North Sea operators continues to increase.
The joint survey found that the figure had jumped from previous surveys, by as much as GB£2.9 billion (UD$3.5 bn).
Much of the increased spending has been put down to the slump in the global oil price, forcing many offshore operators to bring forward the end of production on many assets.
Oil & Gas UK now believe the industry will set to decommission 79 offshore platforms over the next decade, around 20% of the total number of offshore assets on the UK continental shelf.
A major upside to the decommissioning phase is the large increase in offshore drilling operations, as the industry looks to plug and abandon as many as 1,200 wells, spread over the 79 North Sea assets, in the next ten years alone.
As a result, the report found that the majority of the spending will be put aside for drilling expenditure.
Oil & Gas UK
Speaking on the release of the report, Oil & Gas UK’s operations director, Oonagh Werngren, said: “While the industry recognises decommissioning activities are steadily growing, its focus is to maintain offshore production in the North Sea for as long as it’s safe and economically possible to do.”
“The key to sustaining the health of the sector is to take the initiative now to help an efficient decommissioning market emerge as part of, and alongside the industry’s continued and sustained programme of capital investment in new developments.”
Shell has already completely decommissioned the large Indefatigable gas field in the UK souther North Sea.
It is currently also mid way through decommissioning the giant Brent Field, with the Brent Delta now waiting for removal, having had all wells plugged and abandoned.