Collaboration needed to address decommissioning liability
Ensuring Australia benefits from the process of decommissioning will require collaboration across industry, government and the supply chain, according to industry experts at AOG Energy 2021.
The Servicing Australia’s Decommissioning Opportunities session, hosted by National Energy Resources Australia general manager decommissioning Andrew Taylor, featured a discussion centred around how oil and gas integrates with the energy transition and how decommissioning is potentially a stepping stone to broader and longer-term opportunities.
Mr Taylor said the late-life status of a number of Australia’s oil and gas facilities could potentially support the development of additional or alternative offshore resources.
However, some facilities were at the end of life and needed to be decommissioned over the next 40 years.
“With this stream of work, we need to approach decommissioning in a way that is strategic and innovative so that we can return maximum value from these activities to Australia,” Mr Taylor said.
“This strategy and associated innovations need to cascade down into the mindset of every single operator and service company.
“Likewise, the experience and knowledge of these organisations need to feed up to a focal point so that we can preserve and proliferate learnings across industry.
“These organisations are playing a critical role in catalysing, encouraging, and facilitating transformation of late-life and decommissioning activities in the national interest.”
Advisian Principal Consultant Stephen Stokes brought up the question of what the role of existing infrastructure would be in a decarbonised world.
He said that historically the industry tended to think of infrastructure as an afterthought, which could potentially turn into a lost opportunity.
“A number of case studies are being looked at globally around the reuse of infrastructure,” Mr Stokes said.
“For example, looking at pipelines for CO2 transport, existing platforms for electrolysis or offshore wind turbines, or recompletion of wells where the reservoir supports CO2 injection.”
Advisian was recently commissioned to complete an analysis into the current state of oil and gas infrastructure in Australia.
It found that with a number of assets reaching late-life stages, there was a potential for significant cost reduction and socio-economic benefits to be realised through collaboration between industry and government and within the supply chain.
Mr Stokes said the outlook provided a data set which was the foundation for collaboration.
“We undoubtedly have many stakeholders with very different incentives,” he said.
“It’s a conversation piece; it promotes that collaboration and partnership.
“Hopefully, this new data set will be quite powerful in determining the synergies between decommissioning and new energy.”
Atteris principal consultant Eric Jas said that as the world transitioned into renewable energy, the oil and gas industry would still play a major role.
“We can take our expertise from the oil and gas industry into the renewable energies industry,” Mr Jas said.
“Renewables needs smart engineers, so there will always be work as long as you’re flexible.”
He mentioned the Future Fuels CRC, which was looking at using existing pipeline infrastructure for fuels other than oil and gas.
Earlier this year the Future Fuels CRC, in partnership with Deakin University, found that the testing of Australia’s existing gas network pipes for use with hydrogen was now a reality.
Deakin University associate professor Nolene Byrne said the main motivation behind the research was to understand what the compatibility of the existing infrastructure with hydrogen.
“The majority of our gas distribution network is made up of plastic pipes,” Ms Byrne said.
“We use polyethylene pipes, PVS pipes, and nylon pipes, and the end goal is to report to our industry partners how the infrastructure responds to hydrogen.”