With oil and gas industry decommissioning vacancies growing by 20% in 2013 and set to increase even further, this is an exciting time for career opportunities in this sector.
Over the next two to three decades the North Sea alone will see around 40 large surface platforms, 80 subsea systems and many smaller structures all come to the end of their productive life.
Consequently, decommissioning business in the North Sea could be worth more than £2billion a year and potentially create up to 6,000 new jobs, stimulating high demand for industry specialists with sought after commensurate decommissioning skills.
Decommissioning is the newest area in the oil and gas industry, with most operators still in their first project. The withdrawal of production platforms, systems and structures is complex, as they were never designed with dismantling in mind, and each section can weigh several thousands of tons.
“There are hundreds of ways of taking one of these installations apart, and we have to find the best, safest, most cost-effective way to do it. Each one is different and will require a different solution. We’re always breaking new ground – that’s part of the attraction.” says Willem van Es, Decommissioning Manager at oilfield services giant Wood Group PSN.
Wood Group PSN’s next planned project is the removal of the entire 24,000-ton superstructure of the Shell Brent Delta platform which will be dismantled in a single lift by a custom-built vessel that is larger than two aircraft carriers.
“There’s a whole spectrum of vacancies in decommissioning from top to bottom, and there’s a widely-acknowledged shortage of experienced people,” says Kenny Dooley, Regional Director at Petroplan’s Aberdeen office.
Kenny goes on to explain that decommissioning is an excellent skills function for a candidate to have on their CV due to the inherent shortage of experienced decommissioning professionals within the industry.
Environmental matters are also a priority – with 95% of decommissioning material earmarked for recycling or re-use and with the intention to restore the environment back to its original state. There is also an intention that decommissioning will return a large area of the North Sea back to fishing.