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5. Decommissioning Activity Forecast – 2016 to 2025

The North Sea decommissioning market does not end at the median line and, as such, forecast activity on

both the UK and Norwegian Continental Shelves has been compiled to provide a more complete overview. The

following sections focus on specific areas of decommissioning activity. A great opportunity exists for the supply

chain offering decommissioning services. However, companies must be able to compete successfully for this

work in a global marketplace on quality, efficiency and cost, while maintaining focus on high environmental and

safety standards.

In total, this report captures data on 186 decommissioning projects across theUK (153) andNorway (33) Continental



. Fifty-two of these projects are new to this year’s report due to the survey timeframe shifting to 2016 to



; some projects being brought forward in response to the low oil price environment; or estimates only now

becoming available. Seventeen projects have been postponed since last year’s survey to outside the timeframe as

operators have successfully extended field life.

It should be noted that the peaks of activity over the next decade shown in the following sections are likely to

smooth out over the years. This is because decommissioning activities tend to be spread over a number of years,

but for the purposes of this survey operators will often select a specific year for particular work to be undertaken.

Over the next decade, forecast activity on the UKCS is significantly higher than on the Norwegian Continental

Shelf. This reflects the relative maturity of the two shelves, with more fields reaching the end of their life in the UK.

5.1 Well Plugging and Abandonment

The purpose of well plugging and abandonment (P&A) is to isolate the reservoir fluids within the wellbore and from

the surface or seabed. This activity is carried out in accordance with industry guidelines


and the Offshore Wells

Design and Constructions Regulations 1996


on the UKCS, and in accordance with NORSOK D-010 regulations


on the Norwegian Continental Shelf. Well P&A can be challenging and may involve intervention in the form of

the removal of downhole equipment, such as production tubing and packers, and well-scale decontamination

treatment. The process also requires the wellhead and conductor to be removed.

Across the two regions of the North Sea, a total of 1,832 wells are forecast to be plugged and abandoned from

2016 to 2025 (1,470 wells on the UKCS and 362 wells on the Norwegian Continental Shelf). Sixty-four per cent of

these (1,180) are platform wells and the remainder are subsea wells, although the proportion varies across each

sub-region (see regional breakdown from p14).

Figure 2 opposite shows that there is less variation year-on-year in the combined forecast for the two shelves

than in each of the regions considered separately, clearly demonstrating the consistent market opportunity that

well P&A in the North Sea represents for the supply chain. In 2016, 137 wells are forecast to be plugged and

abandoned, rising to over 230 in 2017. Year-on-year activity will average at around 180 wells per year over the

next decade with activity forecast to fall in 2022 before the next wave of projects commences from 2023 onwards.


Project is defined by the operator and can range from a single well for P&A to multi-platforms.


The 2015 survey covers the timeframe 2015 to 2024 and the 2016 survey covers the timeframe 2016 to 2025.


Guidelines on the Abandonment of Wells


Qualification of Materials for Abandonment

are available to download at






NORSOK Standard D-010 Well Integrity in Drilling and Well Operations,

(Rev.4 June 2013)