The Dutch shipyards group has outlined concept plans for a fleet of decommissioning-focused vessels
Netherlands-based Damen Shipyards Group is targeting the North Sea decommissioning sector with its concept design for a specialised vessel conceived by one of its undergraduate interns.
The Damen Decommissioning Series will focus on three areas of oil and gas commissioning – topside decommissioning, offshore platform removal and subsea clean-up and removal.
The concept was based on research by Rotterdam Mainport University marine technology undergraduate Justin Rietveld, who was asked to explore niche markets in the decommissioning sector that would be suited to new rig designs.
It has a monohull with a split stern which will be used for platform removal operations, by allowing the ship to reverse next to a jacket, where it can be ballasted to reach below the platform.
Damen claimed its vessel would be capable of decommissioning fixed platforms weighing up to 1,600 tonnes, enough to remove half of those located in the North Sea.
Modular add-ons would be marketed to provide broader functionality, including one preliminary design that would handle the temporary installation of a crane or helideck.
Discussing the Group’s research manager for design & proposal offshore & transport, Lucas Zaat, commented that: “We initiated this project because we felt that we can make a difference in this sector – and it has certainly generated some significant ideas. The decommissioning market is close to our current activities. We are therefore planning to continue with this project and assign specialised personnel to implement it.”
Decommissioning is poised to become big business in the UK Continental Shelf (UKCS) as shipyards and other services firms diversify their offering to counteract declining rig orders for producing fields.
Oil and Gas UK research published in November 2015 suggests total decommissioning expenditure will reach GBP16.9 billion (US$22.5 billion) in the period ending 2024. Spending hit a record GBP1 billion (US$1.3 billion) in 2014.
More than 250 fixed installations in the UKCS need to be decommissioned, as well as 250 subsea production systems, 3,000 pipelines and 5,000 wells.
On August 2, the UK Oil and Gas Authority (OGA) awarded four contracts worth a combined GBP6 million (US$7.98 million) for studies aimed at integrating the exploration, development and production sectors with late-life planning and decommissioning.
OGA also folded its decommissioning unit into the retitled Exploration, Production and Decommissioning (EPD) directorate on August 1, to reflect the importance of decommissioning to the “asset stewardship lifecycle”. The OGA set a 35% cost reduction target for the sector on July 1 in its decommissioning strategy, which highlighted clarity on cost reductions, better decommissioning capabilities and guidance for stakeholders as key priorities.