The Oil & Gas Technology Centre and the University of Aberdeen will create a new multi-million-pound Decommissioning Centre of Excellence to tackle current and future challenges with world-class research and development in partnership with industry.

Over the next decade, around 100 platforms and 7,500 kilometres of pipeline on the UK Continental Shelf are forecast for decommissioning, with costs estimated to be £59 billion to 2050. The industry aims to reduce this figure by 35%, a target set by the Oil & Gas Authority.

Decommissioning is a significant technical and operational challenge, and also a valuable opportunity for supply chain companies and technology developers in Scotland, and across the UK, to develop the capability to meet domestic and global demand.

In partnership with companies, the Centre of Excellence will develop and deploy technology that delivers cost effective decommissioning at the end of field life, and during oil and gas production operations, including ‘small piece’ decommissioning techniques.

The Centre will be industry led, focusing on current challenges such as facilities clean-up and removal and well plugging and abandonment. It will also explore opportunities to optimise future design for recycling and reuse, including the use of new materials.

It will build on the established research and development capability at the University of Aberdeen in the areas of decommissioning technologies, predictive modelling, environmental assessment and the economics of decommissioning. 

It will connect with and leverage the capabilities of universities and innovation centres across the country and partner with fishing, marine, safety and environment organisations in the UK and internationally.

Linking industry demand and expertise with academic capability and skills will help create competitive advantage, not only for the oil and gas industry, but for decommissioning challenges in the wider energy sector, for example, in offshore renewables.

Scheduled to open in late 2018, the Centre will be based at the University’s Oceanlab facility, located in the Energetica corridor, which stretches from Aberdeen to Peterhead. Recruitment will begin in the coming months, with a team of around 15 people initially expected.

Oceanlab already has a comprehensive range of testing equipment, including indoor immersion tanks and a hyperbaric pressure vessel, for certifying new technology and testing solutions that could drive down the cost of decommissioning.

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