New Scottish Decommissioning Action Plan Set Up

A new decommissioning action plan has been launched by Highlands and Islands Enterprise (HIE) and Scottish Enterprise (SE), which aims to support Scotland’s oil and gas sector.

The plan has been set up to take advantage of the estimated $21.6 billion (GBP 17.6 billion) forecast by Oil & Gas UK to be spent on decommissioning on the UK Continental Shelf (UKCS) between now and 2025.

“Maximizing economic recovery and further developing exciting prospects West of Shetland remain a priority for the industry and HIE’s support to the sector,” Gavin Mackay, HIE’s head of oil and gas, said.

“Some of the largest oil and gas structures in the North Sea were fabricated in the Highlands and Islands and in time, it would be great to see them continue to return here to be safely and efficiently dismantled once their fullest possible contribution to maximizing economic recovery has been realized,” he added.

The overall aim of the plan is to establish Scotland as an international Centre of Excellence for decommissioning and to assist the development and delivery of effective solutions for decommissioning, HIE said.

The plan is focused around six strategic objectives; information, supply chain, technology & innovation, infrastructure, skills & training and international opportunities. According to HIE, these will be delivered through a number of actions such as:

• Development of a Decommissioning Support Program to provide expert advice to 50 companies
• Engagement with 150 companies to raise awareness of and stimulate demand for innovation and R&D support for decommissioning
• Engagement with ports and onshore yards to encourage future investment opportunities
• Identifying overseas decommissioning opportunities and facilitate trade missions to/from Scotland to explore inward investment/partnership opportunities

The plan will be led by HIE and SE, with close collaboration with others including the Oil and Gas Authority, the Department of Business Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) and industry bodies such as Decom North Sea and Oil & Gas UK. 

“The North Sea has a bright future but we must maximize the value of all aspects of decommissioning for our supply chain when the opportunities become available,” Minister for Business, Innovation and Energy, Paul Wheelhouse said.

“This Action Plan clarifies the range of different activities involved in decommissioning programs, from high value offshore activity such as well plugging and abandonment, to the relatively lower value contracts for onshore disposal of jackets and superstructures,” he added.

“This action plan outlines the potential opportunities for established oil and gas companies in Scotland to gain access to the emerging decommissioning market,” Mike Tholen, upstream policy director at Oil & Gas UK said.

“Additionally, it highlights the significant scope for these companies to develop world-leading capabilities in late-life asset management and export their knowledge, skills and services,” he added.

In the UKCS alone, 302 oil and gas installations, 373 subsea installations and more than 5,000 wells will all eventually need to be decommissioned, HIE said.

It is estimated that Scotland could capture between $10.2 billion (GBP 8.3 billion) and $13.9 billion (GBP 11.3 billion) of this spend, which could lead to 18,900 jobs being supported as a result, HIE added.


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