New decommissioning centre will ‘fix today, transform tomorrow’

Roger Esson, decommissioning solution centre manager at the Oil and Gas Technology Centre
Roger Esson, decommissioning solution centre manager at the Oil and Gas Technology Centre

A new centre of excellence will help the sector “transform tomorrow” by fixing the oil and gas decommissioning problems of today, an industry chief has said.

The Oil and Gas Technology Centre (OGTC) and Aberdeen University are joining forces to establish the base at the Oceanlab facility in Newburgh, Aberdeenshire.

The Decommissioning Centre of Excellence is slated to open late in 2018 and will initially create 15 jobs.

Roger Esson, OGTC decommissioning solution centre manager, said the centre would play a key role in developing new decommissioning solutions which can lowers costs and create demand globally.

Mr Esson also said having the centre “just outside Aberdeen in the heart of the oil industry” would help “anchor the supply chain in the north-east”.

The university’s Oceanlab base offers testing equipment, including indoor immersion tanks and a hyperbaric pressure vessel, for certifying and testing new technology.

Mr Esson said Oceanlab was “built and ready to go” and that the OGTC would work with industry to assess whether any changes need to be made to the facility.

Several million pounds will be invested in the facility and in the research and projects that take place there over nine years.

Mr Esson said the university would give technology developers access to academia, while the OGTC paves the way for industrial partners to get involved.

“This is about what we can do in preparation for decommissioning,” he said. “We’re not rushing towards decommissioning.

“We want to make sure we are doing it at the right cost and the right time, contributing to the cost reductions the Oil and Gas Authority wants to see.

“We are trying to make sure we identify issues and get technology deployed in North Sea and across the globe.”

The Oil and Gas Authority estimates decommissioning costs will amount to £59billion by 2050, but has set a target of lowering that figure by 35% to £40billion.

Mr Esson also said the decommissioning centre would be open to developers and academics worldwide.

Furthermore, he said OGTC would leave intellectual property rights in the hands of the developers.

OGTC was launched in Aberdeen in February 2017 with £180million worth of Aberdeen City Region Deal cash to invest in developing energy sector technology.

Mr Esson said: “The centre of excellence is an example of the city deal bringing together industry through Aberdeen University and the OGTC centre – pulling together and looking at problems we need to solve.”