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Aberdeen University Launches World’s First Oil Decommissioning Simulator

Aberdeen’s Robert Gordon University (RGU) launched on Monday a decommissioning simulator that it said is a world-first simulator to help well plugging and abandonment in the UK and worldwide, as the decommissioning sector grows while more oil and gas fields mature.

RGU received technical support from Baker Hughes and funding from the Oil and Gas Technology Centre, KCA Deutag, and Drilling Systems to build the simulator that would focus on well-plugging and abandonment (P&A).  

“The simulator can support both oil and gas operators and service companies with the planning and preparation for well P&A, in a similar way pilots get trained and tested on flight simulators,” RGU said in a statement, adding that it sees the simulator bringing safety and cost benefits to oil and gas companies and service companies in their decommissioning activities.  

The UK, whose offshore waters hold some of the most mature oil and gas fields, has the chance to become a pioneer in oil decommissioning, and should develop the expertise and sell it globally, Andrew Jones, Exchequer Secretary to the Treasury, said earlier this year.

According to a September 2017 report by Wood Mackenzie, a total of 247 fields are expected to cease and US$20 billion is forecast to be spent on decommissioning in the North Sea between 2018 and 2022. Shell, ExxonMobil, and Total (including Maersk) have the most to do, and are expected to spend some US$2 billion each in this period. But North Sea decommissioning is relatively immaterial for Big Oil, as it represents just 2 percent of global capex, according to WoodMac.

More recently, the trade association Oil & Gas UK said last week in a report on decommissioning that US$23 billion (17 billion British pounds) is expected to be spent on decommissioning in the UK Continental Shelf in the North Sea alone between 2017 and 2025. The lion’s share of the decommissioning expenditure on the UKCS in 2017-2025 is well plugging and abandonment at 49 percent, or US$11.2 billion (8.3 billion British pounds), Oil & Gas UK says.   

By Tsvetana Paraskova for Oilprice.com

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