Sec­tor could save £100m a year with new prac­tice

Decom­mis­sion­ing: Wells sealed us­ing ther­mite and chem­i­cal re­ac­tion

The Press and Journal (North-East) - - BUSINESS - BY ALLISTER THOMAS

Spirit En­ergy has tri­alled a new decom­mis­sion­ing tech­nol­ogy which could save the North Sea in­dus­try more than £100 mil­lion per year.

The new tech­nique for plug­ging and aban­don­ing wells uses ther­mite and a con­trolled chem­i­cal re­ac­tion in the well, rather than the tra­di­tional ce­ment plug.

The ther­mite re­ac­tion

“Weare de­lighted with the re­sults from the on­shore trial”

has been used since the 19th Cen­tury in weld­ing rail­way tracks together and could save the sec­tor mil­lions in aban­don­ment costs if widely adopted.

Plug­ging and aban­don­ing (P&A) wells is among the most ex­pen­sive phases of decom­mis­sion­ing.

It is es­ti­mated nearly £17 bil­lion will be spent shut­ting and re­mov­ing North Sea as­sets be­tween now and 2025, with P&A ac­count­ing for nearly half of that cost.

The P&A tech­nol­ogy was co-funded by Spirit En­ergy and Aberdeen’s Oil and Gas Tech­nol­ogy Cen­tre (OGTC) and de­vel­oped by Nor­we­gian firm In­ter­well.

It was tested for the first time in Europe by Spirit En­ergy at an on­shore gas well in York­shire, fol­low­ing sim­i­lar tri­als in Canada. Neil McCul­loch, Tech­ni­cal & HSE Direc­tor at Spirit En­ergy, said: “As the UK’s decom­mis­sion­ing in­dus­try gath­ers pace, any tech­nol­ogy which al­lows us to main­tain our com­mit­ment to minimising en­vi­ron­men­tal im­pact and is cost ef­fec­tive for both the in­dus­try and the tax­payer has to be wel­comed.

“We were de­lighted to lead on this trial with In­ter­well and the OGTC, and look for­ward to con­tinue work­ing with both them and the wider in­dus­try as this tech­nol­ogy moves to­wards off­shore tri­als.”

Mal­colm Banks, wells so­lu­tion cen­tre man­ager for the Oil & Gas Tech­nol­ogy Cen­tre, said: “We are de­lighted with the re­sults from the on­shore trial.

“In­ter­well’s ther­mite tech­nol­ogy has been around for a num­ber of years and it’s great to see Spirit En­ergy step up and de­ploy it in the UKCS.

“Next step is to take it off­shore and we’re con­fi­dent that we’ll see the same pos­i­tive re­sults. The tech­nol­ogy could save the UK oil and gas in­dus­try more than £100 mil­lion per year but that’s only pos­si­ble if we con­tinue to work together with the project part­ners and the reg­u­la­tor to gain ac­cep­tance for it as a per­ma­nent bar­rier.”

EX­PENSE: It is es­ti­mated nearly £17 bil­lion will be spent shut­ting and re­mov­ing North Sea as­sets be­tween now and 2025

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