Offshore decommissioning work will be “much more consistent” due to the low oil price and Covid combination, an industry veteran has predicted.
Tony Laing, director of the National Subsea Research Initiative (NSRI), who has worked in the sector for more than 35 years, was speaking at a Decom North Sea webinar on Tuesday, hosted by interim CEO Will Rowley.
Asked about how the pandemic will affect those seeking jobs in subsea and decommissioning going forward, Mr Laing predicted it will help ensure a more steady stream of work.
He said: “We’ve been promised X amount of decommissioning projects for the last 15 years, as an example.
“I know the likes of Will (Rowley) and I have been involved in decommissioning for 20-25 years, however we want to see a consistent pull-through on the decommissioning side and we haven’t seen it.
“A lot of that has been driven by the cyclic nature of oil and gas.
“When there has been a low price there has been a focus on decommissioning and when the price went high, or higher from an opex point of view, the returns were better so the focus came off decommissioning.
“I think where Covid-19 is concerned, combined with the low oil and gas price, we’re going to see a much more consistent pull-through.”
Mr Laing, has worked in senior roles for a host of companies through his career, including E&P Operators, multinationals, technology suppliers and niche consultancies.
He is now director of NSRI, a not-for-profit “enabling” body to quickly bring new technologies to the UK market, backed by the likes of BP, Shell, Total and others.
Mr Laing did not elaborate on how soon the change will be, although Boston Consulting Group has previously predicted decommissioning deferrals over the next three years as operators cut costs.
Decom North Sea boss, Mr Rowley, has also predicted more work in the long run, although has highlighted “hidden” decommissioning” activities, which are consistent but often ignored.
He pointed to work to keep the supply chain healthy going forward.
“There’s a lot of work going on in DNS interacting with government to make sure there is the capability across the sector”, he said.
“It is also important to realise that, although Tony and I have been involved for over 20 years, it is still an industry with a long pathway ahead of it.”