Offshore Decommissioning in SEA and Beyond: The Challenges and Opportunities

SKUDAI – The Safe & Sustainable Decommissioning of Offshore Structures (SEELOS) Project hosted its first annual seminar event, “Challenges and Opportunities in Offshore Decommissioning in South East Asia and Beyond” recently.

The November 23 event was led and organized by Universiti Teknologi Malaysia (UTM). UTM is a premier Malaysian public research-intensive university ranked 187th in the world by QS University rankings in 2020. UTM is a longtime partner of the Royal Academia of Engineering (RAE) and has deepened their collaboration this year through funding by Engineering X, an international collaboration founded by the Royal Academy of Engineering (RAE) and Lloyd’s Register Foundation.

The purpose behind this event was to foresee the possible challenges and opportunities in offshore decommissioning specifically in Southeast Asia as part of the Engineering X Safer End of Engineered Life Mission, which aims to achieve safer and more sustainable decommissioning and waste disposal. In approaching the end of 2020, the project held its first annual workshop event. Although COVID-19 forced virtual participation after the cohort began, that did not stifle the success of its participants.

Omar Yaakob, the Project Coordinator, opened by saying, “This SEELOS project is believed to really take advantage of the decommissioning data and become a hub for updated technology and a center for the best solutions for decommissioning and restoration process.” Since early 2020, this project has started and gathered information to develop methods and guidelines enhancing the safety of decommissioning process within the specific environment, improvement of recycling facilities as well as developing a long-term network for sharing of information, best practices, facilities, and capacity building within the region.

People screenshot of Webex online platform for a first annual workshop event.

Arun Dev, one of the speakers from Newcastle University in Singapore, concludes that ‘Decommissioning cost will increase in future’. The industry must aim to reduce this amount by a considerable percent, e.g. 30%. The primary condition is that the decommissioning is carried out safely, and environmental interests are safeguarded.

Speaking of the vessel/platform collision incidents and offshore decommissioning in the UK Continental Shelf (UKCS), Jin Wang from Liverpool John Moores University, UK presents a number of operational installations and collision incidents in a timeline manner to provide a perspective from the statistical analysis as well as the offshore decommissioning in the UK.

Noor Amila Zawawi from Universiti Teknologi Petronas (UTP), Malaysia talked about the comparison of decommissioning guidelines in ASEAN country specifically from Malaysia, Thailand, Vietnam, Indonesia, and Brunei respectively. ‘There were approximately 1700 fixed offshore platforms – steel with 500 plus to decommissioning at shallow water which is less than 100m water depth currently’. She summarized that ‘Maturing the areas of concern via research or further studies, can help to develop guidelines or framework with more clarity and customized to the region’.

Noor Amila’s presentation slide screenshot on the fixed offshore platforms for Decommissioning.

Witsarut Thungsuntonkhun, Director of Petroleum Safety and Environment Division in Department of Mineral Fuels, Ministry of Energy from Thailand, gave participants a brief overview of decommissioning in his respective country. He explained how the decommissioning process aspect on the type of offshore installation, types of platform and its component, with the decommissioning sequence in abiding the key issues in his country ministerial regulation.

On top of that, Hooi-Siang Kang from UTM spoke about recycling facilities in ASEAN and South Asia regions which include the statistic, process, regulation on ship recycling. He also provides a case example on recycling facilities modified from shipbuilding emphasizing the important facilities for recycling ship/offshore structures.

As a speaker from PetroVietnam University, following the Le Thi Huyen remarks, participants had been educated through the detailed explanation of the waste management facilities in ASEAN and South Asia regions. She started with the explanation of ‘What are “hazardous wastes”?  Followed by a data-driven comparison between the management facilities and treatment plant.

The SEELOS is accepting individual and corporate members and planning a full slate of meetups and events, most notably next year’s webinar, which will be held on June 2021 onwards at several separated workshops where appropriate. With such encouraging participation at this workshop, the project team recognizes that this is only the beginning.

“It was amazing to be a part of such a magnificent event” shared the Project Coordinator. “We had a phenomenal display of courage, accomplishment, and collaboration present in the workshop. The networking and connections made during this event made every second of time and effort worth it. I know that this is a beautiful start to many events that will take place here at this online platform. I also believe that one of the outcomes of this SEELOS project to becoming a hub for the offshore decommissioning in South East Asia seems realistic and achievable.”

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