Reuse or disassembly
The North Sea is fuller than it seems!
Over recent decades the Dutch North Sea has been equipped with a substantial infrastructure of platforms for extracting and transporting oil & gas. The first wind farms arrived some ten years ago at the same sea. Changing technology means there are also various communication cables on the sea bed that are no longer required. Technological and market developments have resulted in parts of the seagoing fleet becoming redundant.
Environmental awareness and scarcity of space on the North Sea are resulting in the increased and sustainable decommissioning of infrastructure. It is also increasingly common to consider whether existing infrastructure can be reused for other purposes.
A large part of the Dutch platforms is approaching the end of their economic lifespan. The sector is facing a major operation to reuse or disassemble this infrastructure, part of which could be used to accelerate the energy transition by utilising the platforms and wells for hydrogen production and CO2 storage. In addition, new wind farms will be built on the North Sea in the coming years. These too will have a limited economic lifespan and have to be dismantled and (partly) recycled in due course.
AYOP closely follows developments related to disassembly and reuse on the North Sea. Combining the existing knowledge and expertise of our members, the physical space and the favourable location of the area give us an excellent starting point. This is supplemented by the presence of the processing industry in the region for the handling and reuse of residual materials – a unique characteristic compared to other parties in Europe.
Decommissioning is a costly affair but these expenses can be seen in different ways:
- Potential turnover available in the market (turnover loss)
- investment in a controlled process of sustainable removal from the maritime environment.
The complexity of these projects, including the related documentation, demands intensive cooperation between specialists, while regulations require accurate alignment with the governments involved.
A broader perspective
Decommissioning is a volatile market, impacted by energy prices, lifespan, the costs of lifespan extension and maintenance costs. The disassembly also itself involves issues such as the rent and availability of large work vessels. Together these factors make it uncertain whether a continuous flow of disassembly will be established, which is why we don’t just look at oil & gas platforms but at the disassembly and recycling of:
- data and electricity cables
- the underwater infrastructure of production platforms
- wind turbines and electrical infrastructure
- work vessels
Nextstep, a Dutch platform for reuse and disassembly, is examining the options to stimulate cost reductions and a predictable flow of disassembly projects by clustering multiple platforms and promoting intensive cooperation. The most recent Nexstep report can be found here. Other relevant reports are:
Accelerating Wind Turbine Blade Circularity