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New Energy World magazine logo
New Energy World magazine logo
ISSN 2753-7757 (Online)

Decommissioning of oil and gas infrastructure to snowball


6 min read

Jack-up rig in calm sea with sunset behind Photo: Well-Safe
Decommissioning of oil and gas structures worldwide is being ramped up as more renewables come onstream – shown here, the Well-Safe Protector rig is used to plug and abandon wells in the Dutch and UK North Sea

Photo: Well-Safe

Transition towards a greener energy path will leave numerous stranded fossil fuel assets worldwide. As a result, decommissioning of oil and gas structures will be ramped up at a faster rate than simply dealing with mature assets. Nnamdi Anyadike looks at the scale of decommissioning prospects in a number of regions.

There are many challenges ahead for decommissioning ageing and stranded oil and gas structures in the energy transition, as companies are legally obligated to decommission in a way that minimises the environmental impact and risks, keeping them as low as reasonably practicable.


Aside from safe removal there are a number of other decommissioning options. These include partial removal, leaving structures in place, toppling, relocation or, in the case of Australia, transforming the structures into an ‘artificial reef’. But bottlenecks can be created in the decommissioning process by the growth in renewable energies. The tricky task is to synchronise the growth in renewables with the decommissioning of oil and gas structures.


UK North Sea 
Offshore Energies UK (OEUK) estimates that £20bn will be spent on decommissioning over 2,000 oil and gas wells over the next decade in the UK North Sea. Well decommissioning will be at a rate of around 200 per year, at an average cost of £7.8mn per well. OEUK claims that decommissioning in the UK is ‘expanding fast’ and predicts a surge in activity over the next three or so years.


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