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Interview: The future of North Sea decommissioning and abandonment

Lifecycle stage
Decommissioning

Claxton engineers prepping the Suspended Well Abandonment Tool for deployment during offshore operations.

OIL AND GAS UK RECENTLY REPORTED THAT A PLATFORM WELL COSTS, ON AVERAGE, £4.8M TO ABANDON – DID THAT FIGURE SURPRISE YOU?

Yes and no! No, because the operation is complex and operators often bring in a rig to assist with the P&A of the well… but equally yes, because rigless operations are well-proven now and many options to reduce costs exist.

For instance, with good scheduling it may be possible to have the rig move on after the well P&A is completed and use cheaper rigless tooling and methods to cut and recover the conductor – that’s something Claxton has a well-proven methodology to achieve. That’s just one example of how costs can be reduced or optimised. However, it requires good planning and forward scheduling.

CLAXTON SPECIALISES IN WELL ABANDONMENT TOOLING, CAN YOU GIVE US SOME INSIGHT ABOUT HOW YOU SEE THIS TOOLING EVOLVING IN THE FUTURE?

I don’t think it’s a secret to say that most providers of decommissioning services are driven by four key drivers – being more cost effective and faster… but all the time maintaining reliability and safety.

Claxton already has a strong track record in both safety and reliability, but we’re very much focused on developing and improving in these areas. For instance, our latest iteration of the Claxton SABRE™ subsea abrasive cutting system has safety features that are truly best in class.

From the point of view of controlling costs and making operations more efficient, we’re working on more flexible deck spreads along with smaller and more modular equipment that makes the operational aspect of projects more straightforward, saving considerable time. Of course cutting in deeper water is also a priority.

We’re also very open to dialogue with operators on what they need to enable their future plans – our R&D team was set up with that in mind. I’d urge operators to get in touch to discuss the challenges they see in the future with regard to platform well abandonment.

Claxton’s cutting and recovery tooling has been used reliably successfully and safely on over 280 conductor recovery campaigns, well abandonment projects and slot recoveries

YOU RECENTLY GAVE A PRESENTATION TO DECOM NORTH SEA – WHAT DID YOU TAKE AWAY FROM THE DELEGATES YOU SPOKE TO THERE?

Speaking to those present it was clear that interest is growing. You really get the sense that things are going to ramp up quickly. I think it’s important that operators are willing to work with the service providers to accelerate the development and testing of the required tooling.

Pushing into deeper and deeper waters is going to present some real technical challenges and the only way these can be overcome is by closer partnerships.

WHAT ADVICE CAN YOU OFFER OPERATORS LOOKING AT PLATFORM WELL ABANDONMENT PROJECTS?

My one piece of advice is to get us involved in the project as early as possible. Only too often we get the call from the operators at the later stages of the project when operational aspects have been set that are less than optimal.

Working with Claxton in the planning and conceptual stages will allow us to propose innovative solutions that can open up operational possibilities before anything is set in stone. This can only be a good thing; saving the operators time and money.

Decom case study pack
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Decommissioning Case Study Pack

The Claxton offshore decommissioning case study pack showcases our vast experience of delivering successful decommissioning projects.

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