DECOMMISSIONING of North Sea oil and gas platforms is likely to be hampered by a shortage of equipment and companies able to carry out the work.
Forty platforms and 177 pipelines are due to be taken out of operation over the next five years in a potentially lucrative £4.5 billion bonanza for oil and gas service companies.
But a report by Oil and Gas UK, the industry trade organisation, has warned that there is a limited number of companies that service the UK Continental Shelf which have the capacity to lift and transport the massive tonnage involved in scrapping some of the largest installations.
The report states that facilities “capable of safely and controllably dismantling large offshore structures and efficiently disposing of the resultant waste are in short supply in the UK”.
It says only 39 platforms have been decommissioned since UK oil and gas activity began more than 40 years ago and the supply chain has “not yet been tested to a great extent in terms of its capability to meet decommissioning requirements in the North Sea”.
Brian Nixon, the chief executive of Decom North Sea, the body established to spearhead Britain’s decommissioning drive and supply-chain capability, said: “What you also have to bear in mind is that we have offshore wind picking up, and it is going to pull on the same kind of companies and the same kind of skills as we need for offshore oil and gas decommissioning.”