The NDC has invested in a 15KW industrial laser, the most powerful of any in academia in the UK, to develop an underwater cutting solution which could cut costs by 20% and save the oil and gas industry up to £90m. It is being developed alongside global energy services company Claxton.
The University of Aberdeen has a proven track record in underwater laser applications and by partnering with industry aims to create a technology solution to be trialled on the UK Continental Shelf.
There are currently a number of rig-less Plugging & Abandonment technologies under development, including the use of thermite to melt and seal the tubulars & cap rock, the use of bismuth alloys which can permeate the rock and expand on cooling and the use of resins. To be accepted by the industry, however, these techniques need to be verified, qualified and shown to be at least as effective as traditional Portland cement plugs. This £2m project brings together the expertise and capability of the NDC, the University of Dundee, and industry partner Isol8 to create a unique, Scotland based, facility for industry to use in barrier qualification. This should lead to more cost-effective P&A technologies being developed and deployed.
This project is part of an EU funded programme aimed at eco-innovative concepts for the end of the offshore wind energy farm lifecycle. An overall sustainable approach to this end-of-cycle is needed and this project will close that gap by devising and developing concepts that reduce decommissioning costs, reduce environmental impact and increase the knowledge and expertise in the North Sea Region.
Investigation of the environmental implications of decommissioning and the longevity and fate of offshore structures left in place
The National Decommissioning Centre (NDC) and Chevron Corporation have recently signed an Anchor partnership agreement that funds a research programme to address some of the major questions around the environmental implications of decommissioning energy assets at a number of global locations and provide guidance for optimal decommissioning.
The projects focus on techniques for monitoring fish stocks around installations and pipelines as man-made marine habitats, the bioavailability of potential decommissioning-related substances, and modelling the longevity and eventual fate of offshore infrastructure left in situation.
To deliver this ambitious programme of research, the partnership funds a postdoctoral research fellow and three PhD studentships. The research fellow and students are part of the multidisciplinary team based here in Newburgh, working across engineering, environmental sciences and marine biology. The researchers also work closely with Chevron personnel in the UK and internationally.
Dr Alethea Madgett
National Decommissioning Centre
University of Aberdeen
Title: The assessment of ecosystem dynamics in the vicinity of oil and gas structures
Alethea is a Research Fellow at The National Decommissioning Centre studying tropical marine ecology. She is part of the Chevron Anchor Partnership which aims to better understand the environmental effects of decommissioning within a multidisciplinary framework.
Alethea was an environmental consultant with 5 years’ experience of marine ecotoxicological research. For her PhD, Alethea investigated how the bioaccumulation of organic and inorganic contaminants in the marine food web impacts organisms at all trophic levels, including plankton, benthic invertebrates, fish, shark, and marine mammals. Her undergraduate degree was in Forensic and Analytical Science, focusing on crime scene investigation and the analysis and presentation of evidence. Alethea has always been passionate about nature and the marine environment and aims to contribute to the positive change needed to protect our oceans.
To decide on decommissioning strategies, it is crucial to allow for a science-based assessment of the positive and negative impacts of the removal of oil and gas structures. A main unresolved issue is the degree to which these types of structures enhance ecosystem function when compared with nearby natural reefs. Existing schemes are predominantly based on taxonomic measures of biodiversity. Relative abundance alone is not always a good predictor of the ecosystem‐level importance of a species, as even relatively rare species can strongly influence pathways of energy and material flows. Understanding species interactions, food web structure and ecological dynamics across communities provides powerful insights into the structure and function of entire ecosystems. Gathering quantitative feeding data for all members of an ecosystem is challenging, if not impossible for vast habitats with high species diversity. Food webs are commonly constructed from compiled observations or diet studies often limited in space or time, or by taxonomic resolution. This project will use a multifactorial approach to investigate the stability of the complex ecological networks associated with oil and gas structures in tropical systems, to determine their long-term habitat value. Further research will determine how contaminants move through these complex networks using ecosystem-specific functional data.
For further information about each of the following, please go to PhD Projects.
- Quantitative risk assessment of mercury in the aquatic environments: linking mobility, bioavailability and bioaccumulation
- Longevity and fate of structures left in place
- Acoustics to monitor fish on man-made marine structures
Post Decommissioning Monitoring
Shell is the our first major Project Partner. This 2-year project focuses on post decommissioning monitoring of structures, which, by necessity, may have to be left in place. The team are investigating the what needs monitored, why it needs monitored, and then when and how to monitor with a view to producing guidelines on long-term monitoring for both industry and the regulators
Research IT Manager
University of Aberdeen
Email: email@example.com, Tel: +441224437044
Dr Sam Cauvin
National Decommissioning Centre
University of Aberdeen
Access to data for existing assets, seabed and subsurface surveys etc. is limited – with data owners reluctant to share what is generally seen as confidential / commercially sensitive information. This limited data access restricts the ability to develop a robust basin wide perspective and thus inhibits the potential to develop a basin level strategy which could significantly reduce costs and de-risk the deployment of decommissioning infrastructure. The Safe Haven proposal offers the potential to build on the existing data platform technology used to host, anonymise, merge and interpret medical information within the University of Aberdeen to develop an oil and gas data platform that through providing a demonstrably robust and secure environment encourage operators and supply chain to share information.
- The benefit of the project will be in providing a platform which the supply chain (and operators) can access which will provide details of the portfolio of assets to be decommissioned and an estimate the of the CoP/decommissioning timescales. This will allow the supply chain to plan for both P&A campaigns and removal and disposal.
- It will allow the supply chain to invest in technologies which might not be viable for a single job but which may provide savings if investment is spread over a number of individual jobs or for a campaign.
- Visibility from an operator perspective may also provide opportunities for joint campaigns.
Grampian Data Safe Haven (DaSH) is a University of Aberdeen data management repository that provides a secure environment for the safe linkage, analysis, management and storage of datasets containing clinical and/or other data, which contain personal identifiers. It is designed to enable and create better opportunities for researchers to link data while retaining anonymity of the data, and influence policy and practice to improve healthcare and public health, nationally and internationally.
Using the existing DaSH infrastructure, the project aims to provide a “safe” i.e. secure repository for data relating to offshore assets which are due to be decommissioned, the approximate time scale to CoP and decommissioning and details of the assets. This will be open to the supply chain in a controlled manner to allow interrogation of the data base to allow forward planning and investment in new technology to improve decommissioning and reduce spend.