Spending on decommissioning in the UK sector of the North Sea could total £17 billion over the next eight years, an industry expert has said.
Mike Tholen, of Oil and Gas UK, said that was the figure which was expected to be spent on such work in the UK Continental Shelf (UKCS) between now and 2025.
He spoke as a new report from the industry body said that decommissioning expenditure could make up almost a fifth of all spending in the North Sea in less than a decade.
Just 2% of all spending in the UKCS went on decommissioning in 2010, but the report said that could reach 17% by 2025 as production comes to an end in more oil fields.
And with 349 fields in the North Sea forecast to enter this stage between 2017 and 2025, the organisation believes the UK could become a global leader in decommissioning.
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Decommissioning is forecast to take place in 214 fields across the UKCS, as well as 106 fields in the Dutch Continental Shelf, 23 in the Norwegian Continental Shelf and six fields in the Danish Continental Shelf over the eight years.
Across those four regions more than 200 platforms are forecast for complete or partial removal, while nearly 2,500 wells are expected to be plugged and abandoned, with almost 7,800 kilometres of pipeline also forecast to be decommissioned.