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Scottish global hub aims to transform decommissioning

Friday January 11th, 2019

A new global research centre that will combine academic excellence and industry expertise to support decommissioning activity has been officially opened.8793_carbon

The National Decommissioning Centre (NDC), a global technology R&D hub that is a partnership between the University of Aberdeen and Oil and Gas Technology Centre was opened by Lord Duncan, UK Government Minister for Scotland and Paul Wheelhouse MSP, Scottish Energy Minister, in Newburgh, in North-East Scotland’s Energetica Corridor.

The government ministers joined industry and civic leaders to celebrate the launch of this long-term £38m partnership, which is part of the Aberdeen City Region Deal. The NDC is focused on reducing costs, extending field life and science-based thought leadership.

100 offshore platforms and 5,700km of pipeline are forecast to be decommissioned or reused over the next decade on the UK Continental Shelf. With the Oil and Gas Authority estimating the total cost of oil and gas decommissioning to be £58bn, the NDC will help industry deliver the 35% cost reduction target set by the regulator in 2016.

Combining industry expertise with academic excellence, the Centre aims to work in partnership with companies to become the global leader in research and development (R&D) focused on reducing costs, extending field and asset life, and transforming the traditional approach to decommissioning.

The NDC builds on the world-leading R&D capability at the University of Aberdeen in areas such as decommissioning technologies, predictive modelling, environmental assessment and the economics of decommissioning.

The Centre is in advanced discussions with several anchor partners, focused on bringing together academic researchers, experts from industry and business partners with the best experience, ideas and equipment to create a unique environment for collaborative R&D.

The NDC is home to the most powerful industrial laser at any UK academic institution, a state-of-the-art digital visualisation and collaboration suite, and a supercomputer cluster enabling the fast simulation and modelling of innovative decommissioning scenarios.

This includes facilities for technology trials and rapid prototyping, with a hyperbaric testing vessel that can simulate ocean conditions of 6,500m, an indoor freshwater immersion tank, environmental chambers for temperature testing from -40C to +180C and hangar space for the design and construction of decommissioning technology.

Led by Professor Richard Neilson from the University of Aberdeen and the OGTC’s Dr Russell Stevenson, the NDC is developing a wide-ranging, industry-led research programme, with dedicated access to the brightest and best PhD and MSc students, and several projects are already underway.

Linking industry demand and expertise with academic capability and skills will help create competitive advantage, not only for the oil and gas industry, but for decommissioning challenges in the wider energy sector, for example, in offshore renewables.

The NDC will also collaborate with R&D institutions and innovation centres across the country active in late life asset management and decommissioning, and partner with fishing, marine, safety and environment organisations in the UK and internationally.

Professor George Boyne, University of Aberdeen Principal, said:
The University’s partnership with the OGTC is testament to our shared commitment to establish the National Decommissioning Centre as a global leader in research and development, building on this region’s strong track record in innovation in industry and the sciences.

“Our research programmes will nurture academic and technical expertise through PhD opportunities that will anchor research talent here in the north-east of Scotland, while the University’s Masters programme and continuous professional development course in decommissioning will provide companies with the opportunity to upskill their staff.

“By building expertise at all levels – academic and within industry – we will create competitive advantage for the oil and gas industry, and for decommissioning challenges in the wider energy sector, for example offshore renewables.

“I am delighted that the University is part of this exciting project and look forward to a bright and successful future.”

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