Decommissioning advice for oil and gas

RVA has recently received a significant number of enquiries from organisations within the oil and gas industry, and with the interest showing no sign of slowing it seems this sector will represent a large proportion of RVA’s work over the next three to five years.

RVA’s specialist engineering expertise is highly sought-after in virtually every processing environment, but why the recent surge in demand from oil refineries and gas terminals?

The oil and gas sector has changed drastically over the past couple of decades. The ‘dash for gas’ led to an overcapacity in oil refining and many operators have consequently had to rationalise their assets or withdraw from the business completely. More recently gas fields within the North and Irish seas have become depleted which has led to gas terminals being rationalised also. Elsewhere other operators are upgrading their plant as they work towards improved efficiencies, which presents the need to remove older assets.

Regardless of the cause, it cannot be ignored that an increasing number of refineries and gas processing assets are being mothballed or closed across Europe.

The challenge therefore is how to manage these redundant assets in the safest and most cost-effective manner, whilst minimising any environmental impact resulting from the cessation of operations. Some organisations will try to sell their plant, either in-situ if other companies consider them viable operating sites, or for dismantling and reassembly in emerging markets elsewhere in the world. Other refining operators will accept that their plant has no future production value so will consider demolition as the only feasible route.

However many companies will wish to avoid entering into a decommissioning exercise and incurring what is deemed as a non-essential cost. This is despite the fact that the project will undoubtedly have to be tackled at a later date and in most cases at heightened financial expense, for example due to direct ongoing liabilities such as hazardous material containment, security and maintenance costs and testing.

RVA therefore develops bespoke redundant asset management plans for oil and gas operators. Drawing upon many years of experience, engineering insight and knowledge of the commercial environment, RVA undertakes investigative feasibility studies to addressing what is realistically, commercially and safely achievable for the refinery and what will extract best value from the project without compromising EHS excellence.

Commonly a number of robust solutions are then brought to light – many of which the operator may not have considered or even deemed possible – whether this be the dismantling of refining assets for resale, complete refinery demolition, or a combined approach.

Sometimes EHS requirements will have to dictate the chosen strategy. In other projects, whilst safety always has to be the priority, there may be other options. For instance it may be possible to generate a positive income stream from the value of scrap from the refinery or gas terminal.

It quickly becomes apparent just what value RVA can add to an organisation faced with redundant plant, and it is no surprise given the status of the oil and gas marketplace, why the consultancy team’s expertise is currently so highly sought after.