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Subsea engineering opportunity: International Market Insights Report series - Oil and Gas decommissioning


This report is part of a series of ten reports considering the opportunities for the Scottish oil and gas (O&G) subsea supply chain in other subsea and related markets. It focuses on the O&G decommissioning sector, the aim of which is to seal off a well permanently from any possible escapes of hydrocarbon or water, or cross-flows into other formations, and clearing the seabed and water column from any O&G infrastructure. The report considers the international activity of the sector including where there is current activity and where there is the potential for activity based on published targets and available resource and opportunity. The report also considers the particular synergies of the sector and the subsea O&G supply chain. These opportunities cover areas where there is a direct cross over and also where there are opportunities for collaboration to provide innovative solutions.


The research involved a desk review of existing evidence.


The report finds that O&G decommissioning is a rapidly growing sector. There are over 9,000 offshore platforms in service worldwide from shallow coastal waters at 3m to depths in excess of 3,000m. In addition to platforms, there are over 72,000 wells in service worldwide, all of which will require decommissioning at the end of their economic life. O&G exploration is still happening across the globe and as these assets and wells age they will provide a pipeline of decommissioning opportunities. There are range of decommissioning activities and those with a significant subsea element were identified as: operator project management; wells abandonment; facilities/pipelines making safe; sub-structure removal; subsea infrastructure (pipelines, umbilicals, mattresses, Christmas trees, etc.); site remediation; and monitoring. The biggest cost in a decommissioning programme was highlighted as well plugging and abandonment (P&A). A number of research and development challenges were identified for P&A, including: plugging and sealing; cost effective P&A; subsurface cutting, milling and removal; monitoring of abandoned wells for leakage/possible leak paths; and remediation of poor P&A. Global markets with locations of interest were identified in Europe, North and Central America, South America, Africa and Asia and Pacific. The report notes that in the mid-term markets, for example West Africa and Asia Pacific, work is needed on the development of appropriate and efficient regulation and guidelines for decommissioning. It is suggested that these regions can learn from Scotland, particularly for the deeper water fields as well as provide potential collaboration opportunities for deploying Scottish technologies and expertise.


The report does not make any specific recommendations.

Author Scottish Enterprise
Published Year 2018
Report Type Research
  • Business infrastructure
    Supporting key sectors
  • Sectors
  • Internationalisation
    Internationalisation of Scottish businesses