Decommissioning is an integral part of the oil and gas industry operations, where the offshore assets and facilities need to be removed, reused if possible or recycled when they reach the end of their operating life.
From a practical perspective, a significant number of installations worldwide are reaching the end of their design life, and while there are some ways to expand their lifecycle (an expensive process by itself), there comes a point where these structures must be decommissioned. These infrastructures include wells, pipelines, topside installations and subsea infrastructures. However, operators are faced with several challenges in this regard, namely: some older structures that are not initially designed for decommissioning, missing or incomplete design plans and records, accumulations of contaminants and other unexpected problems. Moreover, all necessary measures need to be taken to ensure that decommissioning is executed in a manner which is safe, environmentally sound and cost-effective.
Decommissioning is thus a very complex and significant subject in terms of its economic impact on the oil and gas industry whose main concern is to maximize the lifecycle of offshore infrastructures and minimize the costs of decommissioning while complying with the relevant rules and regulations.