Ideas to slash well costs in North Sea secure £1.3m funds

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Four projects aimed at cutting North Sea oil and gas decommissioning costs have secured £1.3 million in backing from an industry technology centre.

The Aberdeen-based Oil & Gas Technology Centre received 48 submissions to a recent call for ideas to reduce the costs of plugging and abandonment of wells.

BiSN's 'Wel-Lok M2M' technology is one of the projects to receive backing under the scheme

BiSN's 'Wel-Lok M2M' technology is one of the projects to receive backing under the scheme

Over the next decade, 1,400 wells are forecast to be abandoned on the UK Continental Shelf (UKCS) at a cost of around £7 billion and the UK government’s Oil and Gas Authority (OGA) has set a target to reduce decommissioning costs by 35 per cent.

The four projects chosen include one being developed by the University of Strathclyde to use enzymes to repair or improve cement barriers in wells that have been plugged and abandoned. Heriot-Watt University has also secured support for a project to develop a framework for well isolation to better manage risk and increase efficiency.

Projects being worked on by US giant Baker Hughes and UK oil and gas engineering firm BiSN have also won funding support.

Malcolm Banks, well construction solution centre manager for the Oil & Gas Technology Centre, said competition for the funding was tough and the four successful projects were chosen after a rigorous review process.

“We look forward to working with the successful organisations to develop their ideas into solutions that deliver real benefits,” he said.

Banks said the centre was now hoping to replicate the success of the call for ideas when it launches a similar funding round aimed at addressing challenges on developing new wells in the coming weeks.

OGA’s head of decommissioning, Nils Cohrs, said that well plugging and abandonment is estimated to represent almost half of the total cost of UKCS decommissioning.

“Developing transformational ideas such as these has the potential to help industry to reduce this cost,” he said.

The Oil & Gas Technology Centre was established in 2016 with £180m funding as part of the Aberdeen City Region Deal.