Work is slowly getting underway in Thailand to prepare the country for the decommissioning of ageing oil and gas infrastructure.
Decommissioning is expected to assume greater significance in Thailand’s oil and gas industry as the kingdom enters its fourth decade as a producer. Ageing infrastructure, particularly those located in the Gulf of Thailand, and a gradual depletion of petroleum resources could nudge the sector to take the first steps towards dismantling some of these installations.
According to the Ministry of Energy’s Department of Mineral Fuels (DMF), some of the production facilities in the Gulf of Thailand have been operating since the 1970s.
“Generally in the Gulf of Thailand, the offshore platforms look fine and are quite new, less than 20 years old,” Supat Napanoparatkaew, director of Engineering and Standards in the Facilities Engineering Group, Petroleum Technology and Operations Supervision Bureau of the DMF told Rigzone.
DMF indicated that there are around 450 offshore platforms in Thailand. Of these, just under 18 percent or around 80 of these platforms have been in operations for more than 20 years, while a few have exceeded 40 years.
Updating Decommissioning Guidelines
Given that decommissioning is likely to assume growing importance in Southeast Asia in the long run, according to analysts, the government has begun drafting relevant guidelines by adapting mainly from the experience of the North Sea.
Thailand’s current regulatory regime for decommissioning revolves around the “Ministerial Regulation on Plan, Cost Estimation and Financial Security for the Decommissioning of Installations Used in Petroleum Operations.”
This covers activities such as the type of reports required during pre-decommissioning, execution and post-decommissioning as well as asset transfers and financial security, Dr. Nitida Nakapreecha, an analyst at the Bangkok-based Petroleum Institute of Thailand (PTIT) told Rigzone.
Nitida said Thai oil and gas field operators would have to decommission when:
But field operators can also delay submitting decommissioning plans if the upstream blocks they owned are being farmed out or if additional development is planned in these concessions, Supat explained.
Supat said the government has commenced the process of revisiting and revising the guidelines under “Decommissioning 2.0”. The update would cover Thailand’s technical, environment and financial sectors. The DMF expects to complete the review by the end of this year.
A key aim of the review is to streamline the processes, including governmental approvals, for decommissioning. At the moment, several ministries and institutions across national, provincial and district levels are involved in the process, while contractors require separate planning documents before they can dismantle offshore installations.
Supat said the approval process for decommissioning appears long as stakeholders – including local communities, civil society groups, universities and environmental organizations – have to be consulted, especially in areas dealing with the environment. However the time needed to provide technical clearance for decommissioning is “not that long”.
He revealed that the DMF intends to provide a one-stop service for the decommissioning approval process and hoped to get the complete work on this within six months. When ready, operators will submit decommissioning applications to the DMF, compared to previously when they have to obtain approval from different government agencies.
State-owned PTT Exploration and Production Public Co. Ltd. (PTTEP), one of the main oil and gas operators in Thailand, confirmed to Rigzone that the DMF notification on the decommissioning of petroleum facilities and construction – covering details on decommissioning techniques and methods – has not been enacted.
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