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Decommissioning opportunities are set to grow as part of the natural lifecycle of oil and gas projects, our action plan will help establish Scotland as a global centre of excellence.

Oil and gas decommissioning opportunities in Scotland

To remain at the forefront of the oil and gas industry, the sector in Scotland has to be ready to make the most of the new opportunities when they appear.

Read our action plan

Our action plan outlines how we're planning to help Scotland's oil and gas sector make the most of decommissioning opportunities at home and abroad.

Read the report (PDF, 1/37MB)

One such area is decommissioning. In fact, more than 100 companies in Scotland have already been involved in significant decommissioning opportunities in the UK continental shelf (UKCS).

Those opportunities are set to grow over the next few years as part of the natural lifecycle of oil and gas operations.

It's currently estimated that decommissioning activity in Scotland over the next 10 years could be valued at between £8.3 billion and £11.3 billion - supporting peak employment of 16,925 to 22,775 jobs.

An international centre of excellence for decommissioning

Working with our colleagues at Highlands and Islands Enterprise (HIE), we're determined to help Scotland become a centre of excellence for decommissioning.

We're committed to:

  • Improving the information available to the supply chain, operators and other stakeholders to support decommissioning activity
  • Promote and developing decommissioning knowledge and capabilities of Scottish-based supply chain companies
  • Supporting the development and deployment of technology and innovation contributing to cost-effective solutions
  • Encouraging development of appropriate port and onshore yard infrastructure
  • Developing skills and training to achieve a flexible, safe and efficient workforce recognised for competency across the breadth of decommissioning activities
  • Identifying and developing opportunities for international trade and potential inward investment

Our Decommissioning Action Plan

To help achieve our ambition for decommissioning in Scotland we have developed an action plan to summarise our approach and outline the steps we plan to take.

Our action plan has been designed to support the Decommissioning Strategy published by the Oil & Gas Authority in 2016.

Read the Oil & Gas Authority Decommissioning Strategy (PDF, 1.37MB)

It is forecast that there will be over 150 decommissioning projects in the UKCS by 2025, which means:

  • 780 pipelines to be decommissioned, equalling 7130 kilometres
  • 894,480 total tonnage to be brought onshore

Decommissioning success in Scotland: Xodus

Xodus decommissioning project

Xodus, headquartered in Aberdeen, provides engineering and advisory support to clients in the oil and gas, renewables and utilities industries worldwide.

Xodus has completed over 80 decommissioning projects including:

  • Comparative assessment studies
  • Review of decommissioning concepts
  • Qualitative and quantitative decommissioning studies
  • Technical feasibility studies
  • Pipeline cleaning strategies
  • Determining cost and schedule estimates
  • Environmental Impact Assessments (EIA)
  • Supporting environmental studies
  • Decommissioning programmes
  • Independent Review Consultancy (IRC) services

Our decommissioning objectives

Our action plan highlights six key objectives as we support the development of decommissioning capabilities in Scotland:

  • Information and stakeholders - improve the information available to the supply chain, operators and other stakeholders to support decommissioning activity
  • Supply chain capability - promote and develop decommissioning knowledge and capabilities of Scottish-based supply chain companies
  • Technology and innovation - support development and deployment of technology and innovation contributing to cost-effective solutions
  • Competitive infrastructure - encourage development of appropriate port and onshore yard infrastructure
  • Skills and training - develop skills and training to achieve a flexible, safe and efficient workforce recognised for competency across the breadth of decommissioning activities
  • International opportunities - identify and develop opportunities for international trade and potential inward investment

Decommissioning success in Scotland: Bibby Offshore

Bibby Offshore, headquartered in Aberdeen, provides project management, engineering, subsea construction and inspection, repair and maintenance services to the oil and gas subsea sector.

Bibby Offshore worker

Decommissioning has been a key area of focus for Bibby Offshore for many years and it has built up a strong track record supporting clients, globally.

One example was a contract award from Endeavour International Corporation for the Renee and Rubie decommissioning project in 2015. Using their ROVSV, Bibby completed a side scan sonar survey, sub-bottom profiling, pipeline and mattress surveys.

The recovery phase involved subsea preparation works to ensure the safe and efficient recovery of the production manifold, cross-over structure, 2.5 kilometres of rigid flowlines, control umbilicals, concrete mattresses and general debris.

All materials were offloaded at Peterhead Harbour for recycling and disposal safely and responsibly with minimal environmental impact.


Achieving our decommissioning objectives

We've developed a number of actions to achieve our objectives in decommissioning.

Information and stakeholders

  • Develop an economic model to track decommissioning costs and enable analysis of the potential economic value of the market to Scotland over the long term
  • Benchmark decommissioning activities by companies in Scotland to determine baseline and establish appropriate measures to track progress
  • Develop key facts to facilitate a common understanding of the level of Scottish activity and value of decommissioning to Scotland and share/discuss with stakeholders (eg Scottish Government, local authorities, trade unions

Supply chain capability

  • Provide guidance and assist companies to access the Enterprise Agencies support in areas such as operational efficiency, stimulating innovation and R&D, strengthening leadership, developing people, entry to international markets and leverage on investment
  • Develop and publish a Scottish capability statement highlighting decommissioning strengths
  • Develop a decommissioning support programme to provide expert advice to 50 companies between 2017-2019 to support decommissioning and creation of collaborative approaches to assist Scottish-based SMEs offer a wider range of competitive combined services

Technology and innovation

  • Offer Decommissioning Innovation Review to four to six operators between 2017-2019 to introduce innovative thinking and concepts to project development and delivery for those developing decommissioning programmes
  • Increase awareness of and deliver innovation and R&D products to 150 companies between 2017-2019 to support decommissioning e.g. Open Innovation Channel, Seek & Solve, Collaborative R&D and SMART Scotland grants
  • Provide guidance concerning support and funding at EU, UK and Scottish levels for companies seeking to develop technology or innovative solutions

Competitive infrastructure

  • Influence industry to provide better forward market information to enable port operators to assess whether further investment in ports can be economically justified
  • Continue engagement with ports and onshore yards to encourage a strategic approach in the provision of appropriate facilities including consideration of potential investment to improve facilities
  • Work with ports and onshore yards to provide more detailed information on current/planned facilities and capability/capacity to handle specific type and size of oil and gas assets and wastes

Skills and training

  • Identify and engage employers and skills and learning providers to articulate key skill requirements for current and planned decommissioning activity
  • Engage with other industries to identify potential to adapt or modify their expertise to oil and gas decommissioning and promote within the industry
  • Develop decommissioning work programme and build a Labour Market Insight Model (LMIM), to capture scale, duration and technology and skill requirements for successful deployment

International opportunities

  • Explore opportunities for alliances with heavy lift vessel operators and/or potential investment within Scotland
  • Publish a capability statement for international markets highlighting Scotland’s knowledge, experience and strengths and inward investment opportunities
  • Identify projects in key overseas locations and potential opportunities for supply chain companies in Scotland
  • Establish relationships with overseas decommissioning regulators and operators and promote Scottish supply chain companies
  • Facilitate trade missions to and from Scotland for international organisations involved in decommissioning and explore inward investment and partnership opportunities

Decommissioning Challenge Fund

The Scottish Government has launched a £5 million fund to help Scotland's oil and gas supply chain benefit from decommissioning opportunities in the North Sea.

The Decommissioning Challenge Fund (DCF) will support infrastructure upgrades and innovation in salvage and transport methods at Scotland’s ports and harbours. It will also encourage engineering scoping work at key sites to build business cases that will attract further private investment.

The fund will work alongside our action plan, helping Scotland's oil and gas sector become competitive in decommissioning opportunities at home and abroad.

The Decommissioning Challenge Fund is now open for expressions of interest. Visit the Scottish Government website to apply.

Decommissioning Challenge Fund


Decommissioning opportunities for your company

Are you ready to find opportunities in decommissioning opportunities for your supply chain company?

We'll be delighted to help you make the most of the growing opportunities at home and abroad.

Get in touch

Read our Decommissioning Action Plan (PDF, 1.37MB)

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