Trio team up for UK North Sea decom joint venture

The Heerema Thialf vessel bringing in part of the Murchison platform jacket.
The Heerema Thialf vessel bringing in part of the Murchison platform jacket.

An Aberdeenshire firm has joined forces with two major decommissioning contractors to launch a joint venture offering lower UK North Sea dismantling costs.

Fairfield Decom is a partnership between Westhill-based Decom Energy, Dutch heavy-lift crane vessel owner Heerema Marine Contractors and AF Offshore Decom, a subsidiary of the Norwegian firm AF Gruppen.

The new company will be registered in the UK and headquartered in Westhill.

Its bosses said “several hundred” new jobs could be created in north-east Scotland over the next few years, depending on contract awards.

Heerema and AF each have a 45% share of in Fairfield Decom, while Decom Energy has 10%.

Decom Energy, the parent company of North Sea operator Fairfield Energy, was founded in 2016 with the aim of becoming a major decommissioning project company.

Its business model involved taking over the operatorship of fields in their final years of production and guiding them through to decommissioning.

The new venture will carry on that ambition, managing and executing the full spectrum of late life operations and decommissioning activities.

Decom Energy’s knowledge of managing oilfields in their twilight years comes from subsidiary Fairfield Energy’s decommissioning of the Greater Dunlin Area, which is at an advanced stage.

The new entity combines Decom Energy’s experience with the clout of Heerema’s fleet of heavy lift vessels and AF’s track record of executing decommissioning projects.

The partners will be used to working together. Last year, Fairfield Energy handed the contract for the removal and disposal of the Dunlin Alpha topside to Heerema and AF.

Fairfield Decom’s top brass consists of managing director Graeme Fergusson and chairman Ian Sharp, both formerly of Fairfield Energy.

Commercial director Ronald van Waaijen worked for Heerema and Odd Magne Grontved comes from AF.

From left to right: Ian Sharp, chairman, Odd Magne Grøntved, finance director, Graeme Fergusson, managing director, and Ronald van Waaijen, commercial director.

Mr Fergusson said the partners had spotted a gap in the market for a service provider which combined the capability of an operator with the best decommissioning assets and facilities.

He said Heerema and AF were “committed” to the venture and would make their vessels and facilities readily available for projects secured by Fairfield Decom.

The core workforce will come from Fairfield Energy, which has 90 employees in Westhill, but staff members are expected to join from Heerema and AF.

Clients will save a huge amount of time and money by only needing to agree a contract with one supplier to secure a wide range of decommissioning services.

Fairfield Decom believes its cost-effective approach fits in with industry and government’s ambition to reduce the UK North Sea decommissioning bill by 35%.

Mr Fergusson said Fairfield Decom would primarily focus on UK North Sea fields, but would also look to capitalise on demand from a global decommissioning market estimated by Oil and Gas UK to be worth more than £60 billion over the next decade.

Mr Fergusson said the choice of yard for the dismantling of topsides would be made in the interests of the customer and on a case-by-case basis.

AF owns a yard in Vats, Norway, where Maersk Oil’s Janice platform was scrapped. It also has a relationship with the Port of Dundee, having signed a pact in 2017 to establish a rig recycling yard in the city.

Mr Fergusson added: “We have built a strong business relationship with Heerema and AF Offshore Decom as contracting partners in the Dunlin topsides removal and as alliance partners for integrated decommissioning business opportunities.

“The three companies have unrivalled experience in decommissioning and there is great alignment in terms of our responsible approach to business and our core values.

“Our operator background means that we understand what the exploration and production community wants – an integrated solution that is technically robust, commercially creative and that will deliver a safe, cost-effective and environmentally-sound solution.”

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