Dismantling offshore gas platforms where workers have spent half their lives would be a “grieving process” for tens of thousands of energy workers, an industry leader said .
The human factor in the multi-billion pound decommissioning programme should not be underestimated and workers should be involved in the planning process to end a platform’s life, a conference was told.
Craig Wiggins, managing director of Aker Offshore Partner, said as well as an engineering, logistical and financial challenge, decommissioning was a cultural change. “It is about a lot of people who have lived and worked on a platform for half their lives – for 30 years – where they have a lot of friends,” he told the East of England Energy Group (EEEGR) Special Interest Group (SIG). “Decommissioning is a great management of change and you have to set out clearly a vision, a goal and how it will be driven, and involve the people in your plans.
“You have to understand the human factor of decommissioning to be successful. It is a grieving process and they have a part to play in the plan.” Aker Offshore Partner had moved its centre of excellence in decommissioning from Norway to UK, he said. It was working increasingly with Baker Hughes, where there were synergies and simplification through collaboration. Decommissioning would become a growth industry and skills and solutions developed on early projects would be passed on to future projects,” he said. The key was to prepare for decommissioning assets three to five years before the end. “Create a robust plan and plan for the unexpected, ensure platforms are well maintained and choose a contract model in due time. “Decommissioning is about doing simple things really really well. It isn’t a complicated procedure.” The more information assembled at the start, the easier the job. “It is about removing waste in a smarter way.”
Steve Andrew, asset closure solution group manager, ABB Consulting, shared his 35 years’ experience decommissioning oil refineries, petrochemical complexes and chemical and pharmaceutical plants demonstrating the synergies with offshore.
“One of the main things about decommissioning is a lot of unknowns. Plan three to five years ahead. The issues are around information. If it’s not updated, you don’t know what you’re dealing with.”
Audrey Banner, head of policy and projects, DECC offshore decommissi0oing unit, told the SIG that there were 55 daft decommissioning programmes for the next five-10 years.
“We are seeing a substantial tranche of work.” Cost was never the single driver for a project, she said. “Safety, technical feasibility and other sea users must also be taken into consideration.”
Craig Wiggins, managing director, Aker Offshore Partner Ltd, said offshore workers should be involved in theplanning of decommissioning assets they had worked on for years. The human factor of decommissioning was like “a grieving process.”