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What do the new well abandonment guidelines mean for the offshore oil and gas industry?

Lifecycle stage
Decommissioning

“As the sector steps up its effort to tackle its cost base and improve efficiency, the guidelines on well abandonment cost estimation provide the industry with a common framework in which to generate more consistent and complete cost estimates. Oil & Gas UK has now produced nine separate guidelines on aspects of well operations including competency, relief well planning and blow out prevention, to outline good practice to improve safety and performance throughout the life cycle of wells.”

“In producing the guidelines, Oil & Gas UK’s intention is to provide guidance, rather than standards, to support the regulations and associated advice issued by the regulator.”

WHAT’S CHANGED SINCE THE LAST GUIDELINES?

The latest edition of the guidelines for well abandonment includes updated best-practice techniques, more detailed definitions of well abandonment phases and a new section raising awareness of the impact of magnesium salts on long term cement integrity.

The changes to the cost estimation guidelines are more related to clearer definitions and explanations than material changes. The objectives of the guidelines have also been amended to share good practice for the isolation of formations with flow potential when a well is abandoned or plugged.

The guidelines now also apply to all exploration, appraisal and development wells that are being abandoned or plugged – whether they are onshore or offshore.

WHAT DOES THIS MEAN FOR THE OFFSHORE OIL AND GAS INDUSTRY?

Although Oil & Gas UK were quick to point out that these new guidelines should not be used as “standards” they will still become valuable resources for UK-wide offshore and onshore companies – hoping to increase safety and efficiency whilst decommissioning.

However, with added safety procedures being suggested and the chance that ‘correct’ decommissioning estimations could lead to increased quotations – could these guidance pieces add work and spend at a time when operators are trying to cut both types of expenditure?

Speaking about the new regulations, John Scott – Claxton Engineering’s VP of Operations stated:

“Of course, additional guidelines to improve safety and efficiency in the oil and gas industry are always welcome. The updates from Oil & Gas UK come at a time when decommissioning and well abandonment are hot topics – especially in the North Sea. We’re sure that these additional guidelines will become a positive step for operators and engineers alike.”

For more information on the well abandonment guidelines and decommissioning cost estimation, take a look at the Oil & Gas UK website.

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