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Hebrides News


A new action plan to bring oil rig scrapping work to Scotland has been launched by Highlands and Islands Enterprise (HIE) and Scottish Enterprise (SE).

About £17.6 billion is forecast to be spent on decommissioning oil and gas platforms in UK waters up to 2025.

In the UK continental shelf (UKCS) alone, 302 oil and gas installations, 373 subsea installations, 16,000km of pipelines and more than 5,000 wells will all eventually need to be decommissioned.

It is estimated Scotland could capture between £8.3 billion and £11.3 billion of this spend which could lead to 18,900 jobs being supported as a result.  

Locally, the Arnish site outside Stornoway is being flagged up as a suitable location for a decommissioning business to set up base.

The site was unsuitable for scraping the Transocean Winner which ran aground on Lewis in August. Her owners pointed to the lack of facilities and said there was insufficient water depth to take the rig alongside at Glumaig Bay at Arnish.  The damaged rig ended up being transported to Turkey for dismantling.

One strategic action is to engage with ports and onshore yards to encourage investment in suitable facilities.

Expert advice as well as research and development support will be offered to help companies capitalise.

Gavin Mackay, HIE’s head of oil and gas, said: “Maximising economic recovery and further developing exciting prospects West of Shetland remain a priority for the industry and HIE’s support to the sector.

“Some of the largest oil and gas structures in the North Sea were fabricated in the Highlands and Islands and in time, it would great to see them continue to return here to be safely and efficiently dismantled once their fullest possible contribution to maximising economic recovery has been realised.”

The overall aim of the plan is to establish Scotland as an international centre-of-excellence for decommissioning and to assist the development and delivery of effective solutions for decommissioning.  

He added: “This action plan clarifies the range of different activities involved in decommissioning programmes, from high value offshore activity such as well plugging and abandonment, to the relatively lower value contracts for onshore disposal of jackets and superstructures.

“I am greatly encouraged by the fact that Scottish companies are already securing very significant value from a range of offshore decommissioning activities, with the majority of work being commissioned from UK contractors, and Scottish-based firms already securing the lion’s share of work secured from UK suppliers.  This plan will build upon that success to maximise the economic opportunity arising from this key part of the lifecycle for fields on the UKCS.”

On behalf of the industry, Mike Tholen, upstream policy director at Oil and Gas UK said: “This action plan outlines the potential opportunities for established oil and gas companies in Scotland to gain access to the emerging decommissioning market.”

New strategy to attract oil rig scrapping work

27 December 2016

The Transocean Winner could not be scrapped in Lewis