Oil and gas: decommissioning of offshore installations and pipelines
The Department for Energy and Climate Change (DECC) regulates decommissioning of offshore oil and gas installations and pipelines using legislation under the Petroleum Act 1998.
Under Section 29 of the Act the Secretary of State is empowered to serve notice on a wide range of persons.
In the first instance this would include parties to joint operating agreements for installations, and owners for pipelines.
The notice will either specify the date by which a decommissioning programme for each installation or pipeline is to be submitted or, as is more usual, provide for it to be submitted on or before such date as the Secretary of State may direct.
A decommissioning programme sets out the measures to decommission disused installations and/or pipelines, and will describe in detail the methods to undertake the work. In some cases this process can cover a wide range of activities such as radioactive material handling, removal of debris from the seabed and environmental monitoring of the area after removal of the installation. The department aims to be transparent in its consideration of decommissioning programmes. As a result, other government departments/agencies, non-governmental organisations, members of the public and other bodies are given the opportunity to comment on the proposals set out in a programme.
Table of draft decommissioning programmes under consideration
|Field Name||Field Operator||Status||Main points of the programme||Details|
|Leadon||Maersk Oil North Limited||Draft programme under consideration||Pipeline bundle to be left in-situ. Bundle towheads and midline structures to be removed. Spools, jumpers, risers and gas import line to be removed. FPSO to be removed and re-used at a different location.||
|Murchison||CNR International (U.K.) Limited||Draft programme under consideration||Topsides and steel jacket to top of footings to be removed to shore. Proposal to leave jacket footings in place.||
Table of approved decommissioning programmes
|Field Name||Operator at approval||Operator following licence / company change||Main installations decommissioned||Approved option||Year of approval|
|Endeavour Energy UK Limited||-||Subsea Installations||Removal to shore for recycling/disposal||2014|
|BP Exploration (Alpha) Limited||Large Steel Platform||Footings to remain in place, steel topsides and jacket to top of footings to be removed to shore||2013|
|Britoil Limited||-||Schiehallion FPSO||Removal for potential re-use||2013|
|Pipelines||Recovery where possible. Production flowlines to be left in situ.||2013|
|Ivanhoe, Rob Roy||Hess limited||-||FPSO||Removal for re-use at different location||2013|
|Subsea installations||Removal to shore for recycling/disposal||2013|
|Energy Resource Technology (UK) Limited||-||Small Steel Platform||Removal to shore for recycling / disposal||2012|
|Pipelines||Pipelines decommissioned in situ||2012|
|Fife, Flora, Fergus, Angus||Hess Limited||-||FPSO||Removed for re-use at different location||2012|
|Subsea installations||Removal to shore for recycling / disposal||2012|
|Pipelines||Full removal of un-trenched pipelines; trenched pipelines decommissioned in situ||2012|
|Don||Britoil Public Limited Company||-||Subsea installation||Removal to shore for recycling / disposal||2011|
|Pipelines||Decommissioned in situ with selective recovery||2011|
|Welland||Perenco UK Limited||Perenco UK Limited||Small Steel Platform||Removal for re-use outside of UK waters||2010|
|Pipelines||Decommissioned in situ with selective recovery||2010|
|Tristan NW Close out report||Silverstone Energy Limited||Bridge Energy UK Limited||Subsea installation||Removal to shore for recycling||2010; close-out report received January 2011|
|Pipelines||Production pipeline with piggy-backed umbilical - leave in situ; jumpers, spool pieces and associated pipeline equipment - remove to shore for re-use or recycling||2010; close-out report received January 2011|
|Shelley Close out report||Premier Oil||-||Sevan Voyageur FPSO||Tow away for future use at another location||2010; close-out report received February 2012|
|Manifold and Wellhead||Remove to shore for re-use, recycling or disposal||2010; close-out report received February 2012|
|Pipelines||Production pipeline - leave in situ; umbilical - remove in sections||2010; close-out report received February 2012|
|Kittiwake SAL Export System Close out report||Venture North Sea Oil Limited||-||Kittiwake SAL Assembly||SAL Assembly - removal to shore for re-use. Revision to approved decommissioning programme: Completion of the removal of the SAL Assembly extended to 31 July 2012||2009; close-out report received July 2012|
|Pipelines||Pipeline - flexible flowline removed to shore for re-use||2009; close-out report received July 2012|
|MCP-01 Close out report||Total E& P UK Limited||-||Manifold & Compression Platform||Permit granted for the disposal in-situ of the concrete substructure; topsides to be removed to shore for re-use, recycling or disposal||2008; close-out report received March 2013|
|Kittiwake Loading Buoy||Venture North Sea Oil Limited||-||Exposed Location Single Buoy Mooring System (ELSBM)||Removals to shore for recycling or disposal||2008|
|Mobil North Sea LLC||-||Wellhead Protection Structure||Removal to shore. Revision to approved decommissioning programme: completion of the removal of the Wellhead Protection Structure extended to 30 June 2010||2008; year of revised approval: 2010|
|Pipelines||Decommissioned in situ; pipeline sections outside trenches removed to shore. Revision to approved decommissioning programme: completion of the abandonment of the pipelines extended to 30 June 2010||2008; year of revised approval: 2010|
|Indefatigable (Shell)||Shell U.K. Limited||-||6 x fixed steel platforms||Removal to shore||2007|
|Pipelines||2 x hose bundles removal to shore; 5 x infield + export decommissioned in situ||2007|
|North West Hutton||Amoco (U.K.) Exploration Company - now a subsidiary of BP plc||-||Large Steel Platform||Footings to remain in place, steel topsides and jacket to top of footings to be removed to shore||2006|
|Pipelines||Decommissioned in situ||2006|
|Ardmore||British American Offshore Limited||-||Mobile Jack-Up Rig||Re-use||2005|
|Ardmore||Ugland Nordic Shipping AS||-||Single Anchor Loading Systems||Re-use/removal to shore||2005|
|Ardmore||Acorn Oil & Gas Limited||-||Subsea equipment including guide frame||Removal to shore||2005|
|Brent||Shell||-||Brent Flare||Removals to shore for recycling and disposal||2004|
|Beatrice||Talisman Energy (UK) Limited||-||Fixed Steel Platforms||Re-use||2004|
|Forbes and Gordon Infield Pipelines||BHP Billiton||-||Infield Pipelines||Decommission in situ - retrench any area of pipeline with less than 0.4m depth of cover||2003; close-out report received May 2005|
|Frigg TP1, QP & CDP1 Close out report||Total E&P Norge AS||-||Treatment Platform 1 (TP1), Quarters Platform (QP) and Concrete Drilling Platform 1 (CDP1)||Concrete substructures to remain in place; concrete topsides to be removed to shore; steel installations to be removed to shore; infield pipelines to be removed to shore||2003|
|Durward and Dauntless||Amerada Hess||-||Pipelines||Decommissioned in situ||2002|
|Hutton||Kerr-McGee||-||Tension Leg Platform||Re-use||2002; close-out report received July 2004|
|Pipelines||1 x removal to shore; 1 x decommissioned in situ (with future monitoring programme)||2002; close-out report received July 2004|
|Camelot CB||ExxonMobil||-||Fixed Steel Platform||Re-use or removal to shore for recycling. Revision to approved decommissioning option: removal to shore for dismantling and recycling||2001. Year of revised approval: 2002|
|Blenheim and Bladon||Talisman||-||FPSO||Re-use||2000|
|Pipelines||Removal to shore||2000|
|Durward and Dauntless||Amerada Hess||-||FPSO||Re-use||2000|
|Subsea Facilities||Removal to shore||2000|
|Maureen and Moira||Phillips||-||Large Steel Gravity Platform||Removal to shore for re-use or recycling||2000|
|Concrete Loading Column||Removal to shore for re-use or recycling||2000|
|Pipelines||2 x removal to shore;1 x decommissioned in situ||2000|
|Brent Spar||Shell||-||Oil Storage and Loading Facility||Re-use as part of quay extension. Revision to approved decommissioning option: Brent Spar Anchor Blocks - removal to shore for reuse, recycling or disposal 1998||Year of revised approval: 2004|
|Fulmar SALM||Shell||-||Single Anchor Leg Mooring Buoy||Removal to shore||1998|
|16” Pipeline||Decommissioned in situ||1998|
|Pipeline||Decommissioned in situ||1996|
|Frigg FP||Elf Norge||TotalFinaElf Norge||Flare Column||Removal to shore||1996|
|Leman BK||Shell||-||Fixed Steel Platform||Removal to shore||1996|
|Staffa||Lasmo||-||Pipelines||Removal to shore||1996|
|Viking AC, AD, AP & FD||Conoco||-||4 x Fixed Steel Platform||Removal to shore||1996|
|Esmond CP & CW||BHP||-||2 x Fixed Steel Platform||Removal to shore||1995|
|Gordon BW||BHP||-||Fixed Steel Platform||Removal to shore||1995|
|Angus||Amerada Hess||-||Floating Production, Storage and Offloading (FPSO) Vessel||Re-use||1993|
|Forbes AW||Hamilton||BHP||Fixed Steel Platform||Removal to shore||1993|
|Argyll, Duncan and Innes||Hamilton||BHP||Floating Production, Facility (FPF)||Removal to shore||1992|
|Catenary Anchor Leg Mooring (CALM) Buoy||Removal to shore||1992|
|Pipelines||Removal to shore||1992|
|Blair||Sun Oil||AGIP||Pipelines||1 x Re-use; 1 x Decommissioned in situ||1992|
|Crawford||Hamilton Oil||BHP||Floating Production, Facility (FPF)||Removal to shore||1991|
|Catenary Anchor Leg Mooring (CALM) Buoy||Removal to shore||1991|
|Subsea Facilities||Removal to shore||1991|
|Piper Alpha||Occidental||Talisman||Fixed Steel Platform||Toppling||1988|
Notification of disused pipelines
During the course of a field’s life, pipelines / parts of pipelines may be taken out of use, e.g. due to corrosion, problems with reservoir pressure, damage to the pipeline, etc. When this happens, under the Petroleum Act 1998 the Secretary of State has the option of immediately calling for a full decommissioning programme. This is not always considered an appropriate option however, and so it has been agreed consideration will be given to handling suitable pipelines, under an informal decommissioning regime, thereby deferring a formal programme until the end of the field’s life.
The Interim Pipeline Regime is intended to ensure out-of-use lines do not pose a risk to other users of the sea or the environment and that they are covered by an appropriate surveying and maintenance regime from the point when they are taken out of use until approval of the formal decommissioning programme, which is usually at the end of field life. It should be noted that any interim solution should not prejudice the final decommissioning options for that line, including complete removal.
The department expects operators to submit details of out-of-use pipelines / parts of a pipeline as soon as they are taken out of use. Please email Julie Benstead or complete the and post to:
Offshore Decommissioning Unit Atholl House 86-88 Guild Street Aberdeen AB11 6AR
If you are an operator aware of any out-of-use pipelines that have not been referred to the Department, please also notify DECC through the same channels.
If a formal decommissioning programme is not immediately deemed suitable, details of the out-of-use pipeline(s) will be circulated to other government departments for comment. Following this, DECC will decide one of the following:
- we are content with the proposals for monitoring and maintaining the out-of-use pipeline
- we request additional information or further remedial action
- we request a formal decommissioning programme
Following confirmation a pipeline has been accepted under the Interim Pipeline Regime, the Offshore Decommissioning Unit will continue to monitor the condition of the pipeline by asking the operator to confirm the status of the pipeline remains unchanged following future surveys.
A list of all installations on the UKCS and their current status is available from the publications section of the OSPAR website
At the first ministerial meeting of the Commission for the Protection of the Marine Environment of the North East Atlantic (OSPAR) in 1998, a binding decision was agreed that set rules for the disposal of offshore installations at sea. Under the decision the dumping and leaving wholly or partly in place of offshore installations is prohibited. Decision 98/3 recognises it may be difficult to remove the ‘footings’ of large steel jackets weighing more than 10,000 and concrete installations. As a result there are derogations for these categories of installations if the internationally agreed assessment and consultation process shows leaving them in place is justifiable.
DECC has been trialling a streamlined decommissioning programme template for non derogation cases during 2013. This has now been extended to 2014. Operators will therefore have a choice whether to submit a decommissioning programme in the existing format (see Annex C of the Guidance Notes ‘Format and Content’) or adopt the streamlined decommissioning programme template. Operators should discuss individual cases with DECC. It is anticipated that final version templates for both non derogation and derogation cases will be available for all decommissioning programme submissions during 2014 leading to online versions on the DECC UK Oil Portal during 2015.
Further details on the decommissioning process, including the role and content of a decommissioning programme, are available in the
Ais also available (updated on 27th January 2014).
A word version of this template can also be requested from DECC. Please email Julie.Benstead for further details.
DECC will now charge a fee in respect of offshore (oil and gas) installations and pipelines decommissioning programmes under the Petroleum Act 1998. Guidance, including the indicative fee structure, is available in Guidance – charging a fee for offshore (oil and gas) installations and pipelines under the Petroleum Act 1998.
Recommendation 2006/05 was adopted at the 2006 OSPAR Commission meeting, which introduces a management regime for offshore drill cuttings piles. Drill cuttings consist of rock fragments that have been contaminated in some instances with the drilling mud used to lubricate the drill bit in drilling operations. In some cases these cuttings have been discharged to the seabed, where they can accumulate around the base of installations and at remote subsea drilling locations to form what is known as drill cuttings piles.
The management regime for drill cutting piles is based on the results of the work carried out under the UKOOA Joint Industry Project on drill cuttings between 1998 and 2004. The OSPAR recommendation, which the department implements through the provisions of the Petroleum Act 1998, introduces a two-stage approach to identify those cuttings piles that may require further investigation and to assess the best means of dealing with them. Further details, including a copy of the OSPAR recommendation, can be found in the.
In recent years there has been a significant and increasing number of UKCS licence assignments from large companies to smaller ones. The introduction of innovative licensing schemes has also brought a number of new companies to the UKCS. Ministers have agreed such activity should be encouraged and as well as new developments, there should be free trade in mature offshore oil and gas assets to extend field life and maximise economic recovery. At the same time, the government has a duty to ensure the taxpayer is not exposed to an unacceptable risk of default in meeting the costs associated with decommissioning.
To enable these 2 goals to be achieved, a policy was developed to ensure adequate security for decommissioning costs is maintained on a field-by-field basis. The details of this policy, including the circumstances in which the government may require the owners of offshore installations and pipelines to provide security or enter into a Decommissioning Security Agreement (DSA), are set out in annexes F and G of the.