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Reducing decommissioning costs through early wells engagement

Reducing decommissioning costs through early wells engagement

The early resourcing of decommissioning projects with expert wells personnel is a key factor in reducing project costs, advocates industry expert Julie Copland.

The head of decommissioning and low carbon at Elemental Energies, a leading global provider of wells-focused engineering, project management and consulting services, says engaging with expert wells teams during the earliest planning phases of well P&A and major decommissioning projects improves collaboration with subsurface teams. This in turn promotes a holistic approach to the early identification of risks, assessment of P&A technology solutions, and conceptual design.

“Tackling the industry’s offshore decommissioning responsibilities is a vital stage of the energy transition. The global backlog of ageing assets presentsa major, and high-cost challenge, so developing more efficient, lower-risk models to safely decommission assetsis an essential step which must be taken quickly.

“Despite an acceleration of decommissioning projects, we have not yet seen a major shift in how projects are delivered. Teams continue to work in silos with subsurface, wells and other disciplines often working independently of each other.As the energy industry targets a 10% reduction in decommissioning costs by the end of 2028, a focus on performance and greater collaboration, underpinned by experience and agility is required,” says Julie.

A combination of regulatory tightening, balance sheet pressures and emissions reduction are driving decommissioning levels across an increasing number of jurisdictions.The North Sea and Gulf of Mexico are two of the most prolific offshore basins in the world, with the largest global share of offshore assets. In the UK there are around 470 offshore assets to be safely decommissioned over the next 30 years, with 10% of the wider North Sea assets now entering the decommissioning phase.

“With the majority of decommissioning risk sitting with the wells infrastructure, engaging the wells team as early in the project as possible can significantly reduce the potential for technical challengesand their associated costs. Taking a wells-centric approach to decommissioning not only eliminates many of the common problems associated with these complex projects but can also be a catalyst for delivering activity on time and within budget,” adds Julie.

With an extensive track record of successfully decommissioning 500 wells globally and having engineered the construction of more than 2000 wells, Elemental Energies is a significant hub of technical wellsexpertise. Committed to shaping wells-focused projects across the energy transition, Elemental Energies is building a world-leading offering to solve complex challenges in oil and gas, decommissioning, and the low carbon sectors of CCUS, and geothermal.

Six steps to achieving a successful decommissioning project

Identifying the optimal solution early

Wells teams are often only brought into a project once the subsurface team has completed its basis of design work. Engaging the wells teams early in the process allows for an open assessment of the widest range of wells and conveyancing approaches.
The earlier the wells teams are involved the greater the opportunity there is to fully incorporate the optimal decommissioning solution into project planning, design, and contracting methodology. Over the longer term, this can save millions in lost time and project overrun.  

Integrating wells and subsurface teamscan betransformational

Taking a wells-centric approach to a project from the start allows wells and subsurface engineers to work in partnership. This enables experts to take a holistic approach to decommissioning and optimise planning efforts across the field abandonment and barrier strategies as well as well-specific approaches.
Greater collaboration between wells and subsurface workflows, not only reduces project risks but also ensures the most cost-effective and efficient approaches are identified early on, far in advance of activity commencing.

Game-changing wells technology  

Wells activity is one of the most technology-focused parts of a decommissioning campaign. Expert understanding of the status of game-changing technology in the wells space, and access to that information early in the planning process, can have a significant impact on project efficiency.  
Putting this focus front and centre in the planning process allows a full assessment of the latest technology and options for new abandonment methods to be incorporated into the project.

Small optimisations create greater gains during well decommissioning

Wells are the single largest cost and the most time-intensive part of a decommissioning campaign. Accounting for more than 50% of the project costs, small optimisations made during the wells decommissioning phase can have major time and cost implications.
These optimisations can occur during planning, through close integration with other teams, such as subsurface, through the deployment of new technology, or through operational excellence during the execution phase.
In addition, during the operational phase of well decommissioning, the optimisation of work instructions and the ability to respond swiftly to changes in well conditions are critical to ensuring time and cost targets are met.  

Understanding the regulatory landscape for smooth project advancement

Wells infrastructure is highly regulated globally.Expert knowledge of the regulatory landscape, the specific wells criteria that must be met, and accepted methods to optimise performance are critical in achieving best-in-class decommissioning performance.  
Many operators also face ongoing challenges with wells that fall outside of regulatory standards. A wells-focused approach can support the prioritisation of these ageing wells and develop work programmes that are both efficient and support the objectives of the regulator in securing legacy wells infrastructure.

A trusted, independent decommissioning partner

Finding a well engineering partner who is not only experienced at delivering complex decommissioning projects but also has the independence to ensure you receive the best advice and guidance on the most appropriate solutions for your project is critical.
With a track record of successfully decommissioning more than 500 wellsElemental Energies has built the leading hub of well engineering talent within the energy industry with a major focus on supporting global decommissioning efforts. This includes leading experts and active projects across platform, subsea and wider facilities decommissioning, with a specific focus on the role P&A technology plays in transforming decommissioning performance.

Committed to shaping the wells-focused projects, Elemental Energies is building a world-leading offering to solve complex challenges in oil and gas, decommissioning and the low carbon sectors of CCUS, and geothermal.

Find out more at elementalenergies.com

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Published: 16-11-2023

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