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Hopes of oil and gas decommissioning bonanza

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A surge in decommissioning of oil and gas platforms in coming years could be worth billions and provide significant opportunities for the East of England and particularly the ports of Lowestoft and Great Yarmouth.

A recent report from Oil and Gas UK revealed that more than 50 decommissioning projects could come to fruition in the next five years. According to James Gray of the East of England Energy Group, the region is ideally placed and resourced to capitalise on these business opportunities, An East of England Energy Zone, was launched earlier this year to highlight the region’s offer to the oil, gas, wind and nuclear energy industries. “With the region’s proven expertise, five decades of experience and accessible facilities, an established marine supply chain and a proactive attitude, the East of England Energy Zone is well placed to pounce on the investments made available through decommissioning,” he said. He called on companies to work collaboratively to prepare for the on-going challenges and prospects that lay ahead.

Decommissioning has become a major business within the oil and gas industry and is a lengthy and high cost operation. Many of the structures producing oil and gas have a limited lifespan, often 25-40 years, and an increasing number are due to be taken out of service. There are more than 600 offshore oil and gas installations in the North Sea, with over three quarters located in UK waters. These comprise the sub-sea equipment fixed to the ocean floor, rigs and platforms of varying styles, sizes and ages, more than 10,000km of pipelines and 5,000 wells and accumulations of drill cuttings. When redundant, they must be removed and disposed of, ensuring that the surrounding area is safe from environmental contamination.

Deputy port manager at ABP Roger Arundale, said: "The Port of Lowestoft has a long history of involvement with the oil and gas industry. The port has and continues to act as a base for both support and construction relating to the offshore industry. I believe that decommissioning on the scale being envisaged will present significant opportunities for the industry as a whole. Lowestoft's location, local expertise, vessel berthing facilities and available land provide a valuable resource for all developments in the southern North Sea. The port is looking forward to working with the industry to identify how we can help and support them during the decommissioning process."

Great Yarmouth’s EastPort UK offers access to a deep-water outer harbour (10m) and modern river ports, with significant quay space, ample land for development and good transport links.

Jamie Frater, CEO for EastPort: “When oil and gas rigs were first constructed, engineers and constructors were trained to install, without considering decommissioning requirements. With the current energy opportunities in gas and offshore wind farms, the East of England has been proactive in identifying the need to train in operations and maintenance work, which means the skills also needed for decommissioning are available right here in the eastern region.

“Our existing supply chain and skills will be a huge benefit to large scale decommissioning and eventually recommissioning projects. The expertise and knowledge of the industry across the East of England is both reputable and transferable.”

Last Updated ( Friday, 07 December 2012 14:21 )