20th May 2021


BLOG POST:- Rising to the Decommissioning Challenge

The number of offshore assets reaching their end of life, globally, is rising, meaning decommissioning projects are a real eventuality for many operators.

Decommissioning is an inherently hazardous exercise, one that requires meticulous planning, experienced people and an extremely defined skill-set, if it is to be executed safely.

In the North Sea, one of the world’s most mature offshore production basins, decommissioning will be a major industrial challenge. There are hundreds of platforms, millions of tonnes of infrastructure, and thousands of wells and structures that will need removed and recycled in the coming years.

Decommissioning is an expensive business but costs have been declining in recent years due to increased innovation, better cooperation throughout the supply chain and the development of first-class skills and capabilities.

In this blog, Stephen Booth, Ashtead Technology's Business Development Manager, discusses the many challenges facing the sector and how Ashtead Technology can help Operators make decommissioning safer and more cost effective, whist reducing environmental impact.

Best-in-class services

“With a 20 year track record, Ashtead Technology are international experts in the provision of offshore decommissioning services for the energy sector. With one of the largest fleets of decommissioning tools and systems in the market, we specialise in ROV tooling, control and monitoring solutions, structure monitoring services, cutting systems and seabed dredging solutions.

“We offer a complete service capability for the cutting and removal of oil & gas and renewable energy infrastructure, with a proven track record in field clearance and structure & pipeline cutting and recovery. Specifically for the renewables market, we provide a suite of services for the decommissioning of met masts, monopiles, tri-pile foundation structures and export cables.

“The continued ambition to reduce decommissioning expenditure is a challenge for the whole supply chain and our aim is to provide customers with the most reliable, efficient and predictable end of life solution, delivered at the lowest cost with no compromise on best-in-class HSE performance.

Enabling technology innovation

“Innovation in decommissioning through continued investment in research, development and deployment of technology will maintain and enhance supply chain capability.

“In order to expand our market-leading offering and deliver greater value for our customers’, Ashtead Technology continues to pioneer the development of new technologies and methodologies.

“The SubseaLASE is an advanced method of laser cutting that has significant advantages over standard mechanical or water-abrasive cutting methods. An extremely versatile tool, the SubseaLASE can perform a swift remote cut regardless of orientation or geometry.​ Not only is cutting time significantly reduced by approximately 80%, the set up and post-cutting stages of operation are greatly simplified, with minimal human intervention required.

“SubseaLASE has the potential to revolutionise pipeline cutting operations providing a safer, low-cost and low-risk cutting solution to fast-track the decommissioning process. Furthermore, it provides Operators with a more sustainable alternative to traditional decommissioning methodologies as the process requires less human intervention and vessel time therefore reducing the emissions associated with decommissioning.

“As we approach the final development stages with this product, we have started the journey of engaging with potential sponsors to help complete the R&D process and facilitate with the commercialisation of this game-changing technology.

Centre of excellence capability deployed internationally

“Since our acquisition of UCS in 2019, Ashtead Technology’s ability to bring a decommissioning capability to international customers has significantly increased.

“Drawing on a tried and tested project management model which combines our centre of excellence expertise (delivered from our Mechanical Solutions Technology Hub in Thainstone, Aberdeenshire) with a bolstered local and international operational capability, we have recently executed multiple successful projects in the Middle East, Asia and West Africa. Furthermore, we have laid the foundations for delivering further complex, multi-service decommissioning projects across these regions, as demand requires.

Sustainable decommissioning

“Decommissioning is an inherent part of the energy transition agenda with new ways of repurposing and reusing infrastructure being explored to minimise gas emissions. As a proactive participant in the energy transition, Ashtead Technology will continue to work with industry partners and the supply chain to support the development of new technology and methodologies to improve efficiency and reduce cost and safety risk in an environmentally responsible manner.”