Consortium Tackles Decommissioning Inefficiencies

A team of oil and gas consultancy companies have formed a collaborative program aimed at offering integrated support for operators looking to retire redundant facilities without in-house overhead.


A team of oil and gas consultancy companies have formed a collaborative program aimed at offering integrated support for operators looking to retire redundant facilities without in-house overhead. Consisting of 4 companies with 20 years of combined experience delivering decommissioning projects in the UK Continental Shelf, the Integrated DECOM consortium was created to offer independent front-end engineering and environmental solutions, as well as a single-point solution for delivering an entire decommissioning work scope.

Costain will lead the consortium. BMT Cordah, Axis Well Technology, and DNV GL will also participate.

“The companies within Integrated DECOM bring complementary, critical technical skills which are required to plan and deliver compliant and cost-effective decommissioning,” said Frazer Mackay, oil and gas sector director at Costain. “This unique, combined knowledge ensures that every solution will be considered in a comparative assessment process, delivering a lower-risk and -cost decommissioning outcome for owners and stakeholders.”

Gareth Jones, principal consultant at BMT Cordah, said the duplication of tasks and project delays are among the more prevalent cost inefficiencies in decommissioning. A lack of coordination between groups in an organization and excessive compartmentalization may lead to issues with sharing information in a timely manner. These issues may impede the delivery optimization process.

Jones also said that owners and operators that begin the decommissioning process too late and out of sequence may slow their delivery schedules.

“There are many different tasks to be completed within a decommissioning project, and if they are not completed in the right order, then some get delayed and others have to be repeated due to the unplanned impact from other areas,” he said.

Three of the four consortium partners (Costain, BMT Cordah, and Axis) are based in the UK and deal with issues in the UK Continental Shelf. Jones said that operators working in this area face specific challenges with decommissioning. One such problem is the scheduling of vessels and yards, along with obtaining approvals within a highly regulated series of basins. Jones said that, if operators want to keep this work within the UK, the number of assets poised for decommissioning will pose a significant risk in terms of port and yard access. He said that the UK government and service industries may not be geared up to handle the volume of applications and assets.

In addition, Jones said the industry must find ways to reduce the costs associated with decommissioning.

“There is a clear challenge with costs,” Jones said. “We feel there needs to be new ways of working and the adoption of innovative working practices to enable reductions in decommissioning costs.”

The consortium will help minimize task duplication when undertaking a project, reducing the risk of information being lost in translation between different disciplines. It will also provide flexibility for asset owners to begin the engineering and planning for decommissioning early without the need to hire a full-time team. Jones said that the removal of that particular upfront cost will remove a major cause for schedule delays.

“Early preparation work gets delayed because it’s difficult to justify a full-time team waiting for approvals and stakeholder feedback,” Jones said. “Early engagement with our team means developing a compliant and optimized decommissioning plan.”

The consortium will attend the Offshore Decommissioning Conference in St. Andrews, Scotland, on 15–16 November. Jones said the team currently does not have any firm contracts in place for specific projects, but it is in discussion with a number of operators. Jones said the team is confident that it will have secured project work within the next 6 months.