Around 5,000 subsea and platform wells will require decommissioning in the North Sea with the majority to be dealt with by 2025. Total value? About £15 billion.
Existing well technology will allow two thirds of those wells to be abandoned by rigless operations but new techniques will be required to dealt with the rest, says the report, which was prepared for Oil and Gas UK through its well abandonment work group by Acteon subsidiary InterAct Activity Management.
“The report estimates that 3,725 platform wells and 910 subsea wells in the UK offshore will need to be abandoned, the majority in the next 15 years,” declared Phil Chandler, a senior petroleum engineer with InterAct.
He went on: “Existing technology will permit the rigless abandonment of two thirds of those wells, a method which is typically more cost effective than using a rig. However, the rigless abandonment of the remaining one third of wells will require the advancement of techniques such as well control and string tubular recovery.”
Oil and Gas UK operations director Paul Dymond said the report illustrates the need for evolution of new and innovative well abandonment technology. “The industry needs to look very closely at how to position itself to grasp those opportunities,” Dymond said.
Well abandonment workgroup chairman Jules Schoenmakers of Shell said operators are looking for breakthrough technologies to make well abandonment cheaper. With the study now quantifying the opportunities available, he said: “The size of the market appears large enough to support many businesses and teams of specialised well abandonment professionals for several decades.”
New well abandonment guidelines have recently been published by Oil and Gas UK revising those issued in 2005, and OGUK is also due to host a conference on 26 and 27 May focused on decommissioning.