UK Government Publishes Updated Offshore Decommissioning Guidance Notes
The UK government has published updated guidance notes for the decommissioning of offshore oil and gas installations and pipelines.
These guidance notes are said to be largely unchanged from the 2009 version of the document, although some decommissioning processes have been amended ‘to provide greater clarity on requirements and what is expected of operators at the differing stages in decommissioning’.
The updated notes also reflect clearer policy requirements in relation to post decommissioning activity and explain the need for a long-term management plan for any infrastructure that will remain in place after decommissioning.
Going forward, the guidance notes are set to be reviewed regularly ‘to ensure that they provide up-to-date and relevant guidance to industry’.
Michael Burns, an oil and gas partner at law firm Ashurst, welcomed the publication of the new guidance notes.
"Decommissioning is a key issue for the UK offshore oil and gas industry, and therefore the publication by the government of the final version of revised decommissioning guidance is a welcome development, as it will aid clarity in what is a very complex area,” Burns said in a statement sent to Rigzone.
A total of $22 billion (GBP 17 billion) is forecast to be spent on decommissioning on the UK Continental Shelf (UKCS) from 2017 to 2025, according to a report published late last year by industry body Oil & Gas UK.
Of this amount, $10.5 billion (GBP 7.9 billion) will be spent in the central North Sea, the report stated, and the largest category of expenditure on the UKCS during the period will be well plugging and abandonment at $11.1 billion (GBP 8.3 billion).
Decommissioning is expected to take place on 349 fields across the North Sea from 2017 to 2025, including 214 fields on the UKCS, 106 fields on the Dutch Continental Shelf, 23 fields on the Norwegian Continental Shelf and six fields on the Danish Continental Shelf.
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