Murchison platform decommissioning

Corporate Responsibility

Murchison platform decommissioning

After 300 million barrels of oil produced over a 35-year period, the last well at the Murchison platform in the North Sea was shut down in 2014. This platform was once taller than a 60-storey building and had a crew of 192 people.

Murchison is the first platform that Canadian Natural has taken out of service, and we are now in the final stages of decommissioning. Throughout all phases of this process we have worked to ensure the safety of employees and contractors, the integrity of our facilities and environmental stewardship.

As a first step, we conducted a full assessment to confirm to the UK government that the platform was no longer profitable, and submitted a full decommissioning plan along with an Environmental Impact Assessment to ensure the work was carried out with minimal impact on the environment.

In the summer of 2016, we completed the removal of the platform topsides. Before any platform modules could be lifted, all piping, cables and steelwork were cut and removed. Detailed job descriptions and Safety Management System tools were essential elements in managing the work activities safely. To prevent any potential hydrocarbon releases, all piping was cleaned and Emergency Response plans were in place.

Another major milestone was the successful removal of the 26,000-ton jacket in 2017, with the use of new technology for the subsea cutting and lifting large diameter steel sections. We have also initiated plugging and abandonment of subsea wells and removal of any historic debris from the seabed.

The remaining work on the decommissioning project focuses on the onshore disposal of the removed structures, with the goal of recycling more than 97% of the equipment. Final surveys will be undertaken to ensure environmental protection, with full completion targeted for 2018. The Project Team is now taking the lessons learned and applying them to future platform decommissioning projects.

Left: Heavy lift companies dismantling and removing modules from the topside of Murchison platform. Right: Pipeline pigs are used to carry out cleaning and inspection operations without stopping the flow of oil. The pig is inserted into a pig launcher. It squeals as it travels along the pipe, hence the name. This pig from Murchison was gifted to the museum of Scotland’s new gallery.