Offshore platform decommissioning projects

Corporate Responsibility

Offshore platform decommissioning projects

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. 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.

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 environmental impact. In 2016, we completed the removal of the platform topsides, but 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 with emergency response plans in place.

Another major milestone was the successful removal of the 26,000-tonne jacket in 2017, with the use of new technology for the subsea cutting and lifting of large diameter steel sections. Following that, we initiated plugging and abandonment of subsea wells and removal of any historic debris from the seabed. Final surveys will be undertaken to ensure environmental protection, with full completion targeted for 2018.

During the Murchison decommissioning project, over 40,000 tonnes of topsides and jacket structures were removed from the North Sea and transported to Norway for recycling and disposal, with the goal of recovering 95% of those materials.

The Project Team is taking the lessons learned and applying them to the Ninian North platform decommissioning project, including a focus on safe operations, maximizing offline activities and working effectively with contractors.

Left: Heavy lift companies dismantling and removing modules from the topside of Murchison platform. Right: members of the Decommissioning team.