H.E. Lee, K.L Na, N.A.Wan Abdullah Zawawi , M.S. Liew
(Offshore Engineering Center, Universiti Teknologi PETRONAS)
Being essentially a structured method to deal with or rid of unused oil and gas infrastructure, decommissioning is that dreaded stint after any asset’s ‘glory-days’, when ageing facilities can no longer justify their original intent or current purpose. It entails a complex process which the operator of an offshore installation goes through to ultimately remove old-disused platforms in an economical manner suited to safeguard the best interests of the offshore workforce and the environment. While it is not exclusively for fixed platforms, it can be inferred to a certain extent that their floating counterparts are relatively easier to deal with, given similar water depth ranges; which is rather true for most floating storage units in Malaysian waters. With over 300 fixed offshore platforms in the country of which more than half are approaching the end of their intended service life, reality is starting to sink in that many of these platforms may have to be removed or dealt with in the near future. To date, only a handful of fixed offshore platforms in Malaysian waters have been decommissioned and so far, performed without a proper governing localized regulatory framework.
Zooming out, decommissioning is by no means a new thing for more seasoned offshore hydrocarbon regions like that of Gulf of Mexico and the North Sea. Both have accumulated decades of unique decommissioning experiences and strategies that, in the present revolve mainly around fixed steel structures in relatively shallow waters. The 1995 hall-mark controversial Brent SPAR decommissioning in the North Sea is of course, a resounding outlier to conventional fixed platforms. Notwithstanding it being a deep-water floater, the public dispute that ensued serves as a firm