Decommissioning is the last phase of any offshore oil and gas project. The process of decommissioning involves safe plugging of the wellbore in the earth’s surface and disposal of equipment used in offshore oil and gas production. In the Gulf of Mexico, decommissioning of offshore oil and gas platform has become mandatory for oil and gas operator companies. Decommissioning operation helps maintain safety and sanity of the offshore environment. An offshore decommissioning operation requires 10 steps to be followed for successful completion of the project. These 10 steps are project management; engineering; and planning; permitting and regulatory compliance; platform preparation; well plugging and abandonment; conductor removal; mobilization and demobilization of derrick barges; platform removal; pipeline and power cable decommissioning; materials disposal; and site clearance. Companies operating in the decommissioning market either specialize in one of the aspects or may provide complete services mentioned above.
The offshore decommissioning market can be segmented into two broader areas: decommissioning services or activities; and application in shallow water, deep water, and ultra-deep water.
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The major driver for decommissioning market is strengthen & mandatory legal guidelines for offshore oil and gas operations setup by the regulatory bodies of respective nations. Presence of the aging oil reserves and abandoned wells in matured offshore oil fields across the world is another factor driving the decommissioning market. Major potential risk of oil spill or leakage through these abandoned oil and gas wells may cause ocean water pollution, thereby threatening the marine ecosystem. This poses difficulty in cleaning and recovery of oil spill and then decommissioning the well after any such incident. The cost involved in decommissioning of such disturbed oil wells or platforms is high. Technically, this poses various challenges. Discovery and development of new oil reserves in offshore (mostly deep water) areas around the world is another factor boosting the global offshore decommissioning market. New discoveries of offshore oil deposits such as Liza field in Guyana, Offshore Kutch basin in India, and Tupi offshore oil field in Brazil indicate the future oil production opportunity in these offshore fields, which are likely to require decommissioning services after their abandonment.
Recent downturn in prices of oil is expected to be a key restraint to not only exploration and development activities of oil and gas but also decommissioning operations. Decrease in oil prices has caused a continued decline in cash inflow and rise or hike in debt levels could challenge the future of oil and gas industry.
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The global offshore decommissioning market is expected to expand in the near future. North America is anticipated to be a major region of this market, owing to the presence of the Gulf of Mexico offshore oil reserves in the region. Europe is also estimated to contribute significantly to the offshore decommissioning market, as its North Sea offshore oilfields are & aging. Latin America has significant undeveloped offshore oil reserves in countries such as Venezuela, Brazil, and Guyana. Thus, the region is likely to be an attractive market for offshore decommissioning in the near future. Middle East & Africa has large fossil fuel wealth; thus, the region is expected to be a major contributor to the decommissioning market. The decommissioning market in Asia Pacific is anticipated to expand at a steady pace during the forecast period.
Key players operating in the decommissioning market are Petrofac Limited, Aker Solutions, TechnipFMC plc., Ramboll Group, Deepocean Group Holding B.V., Amec Foster Wheeler, PLC., AF Gruppen, Claxton Engineering Services, Ltd., DNV GL AS, and Allseas.