Regulatory Push Grows for Decommissioning of Subsea Equipment

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Increasing pressure to properly decommission subsea production systems when offshore oil and gas fields are plugged and abandoned (P&A) is becoming a major issue as low oil prices increasingly force producers to shut in unprofitable wells, Bruce Crager, executive vice president of Endeavor Management, said on 12 January at the monthly roundtable luncheon hosted by the Rice Global Engineering & Construction Forum.

“The subsea decommissioning market is becoming a focus worldwide due to lower oil prices and more regulatory pressure to P&A nonproducing wells,” Crager said in a presentation, Status of Subsea Decommissioning. “There appears to be real consideration of the benefits of leaving subsea systems in place vs. recovering them.”

Crager said most countries with offshore oil and gas production require subsea wells be plugged and abandoned as offshore fields reach the end of their productive lives; most regulatory regimes mandate that subsea flowlines, umbilicals, manifolds, and other subsea hardware be properly decommissioned as part of the P&A process. As many as thousands of offshore wells are and will be affected, he said.

“Decommissioning of subsea production systems and components is becoming increasingly important to offshore oil and gas operators. This means energy engineering and construction (E&C) companies need to solve significant technical, logistical, and management issues whenever subsea equipment is decommissioned,” Crager said. “Offshore production companies frequently reply upon energy E&C companies for the people, skill sets, and know-how needed to properly decommission subsea equipment.”



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