‘Great Yarmouth can be hub for Southern North Sea decommissioning’

Nigel Jenkins

Nigel Jenkins - Credit: Archant

The forecast £40bn programme to decommission North Sea wells and platforms can bring significant jobs and investment opportunities to the Great Yarmouth area for a generation, it has been claimed.

Nigel Jenkins, chief executive of Decom North Sea, the UK decommissioning industry's representative body, delivered his upbeat message for the region on the day the true scale of the crisis in the oil and gas industry was revealed.

He said if the town seized the opportunity, it could become a 'key hub' for Southern North Sea decommissioning over the next 30 years.

Speaking as it was revealed that falling oil prices and rising costs have led the sector to spend and invest £5.3bn more than it earned from sales during 2014, Mr Jenkins said the opportunity 'could be within the borough's grasp if it wanted it'.

However, to reap the potential future economic rewards, the area needed to develop its oil and gas capability alongside other industries, he said.

Supply chain companies that come up with the 'brightest ideas' to tackle the massive offshore task with the most cost-effective solutions stood to be winners in the contest for a share of the work.

'We know there are hundreds of wells to be plugged and abandoned in SNS and this is just the tip of the iceberg with redundant installations and subsea infrastructure to be removed,' he said.

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Mr Jenkins will tell supply companies that collaboration is key in the lucrative competition ahead when he speaks at next week's East of England Energy Group (EEEGR) flagship conference for the Southern North Sea, at the Norfolk Showground.

He said Decom North Sea and Department of Energy and Climate Change were currently working with several operators in the southern North Sea.

He said: 'What we need are centres onshore where decommissioning can be managed from and assets can be taken. Over the next five years the operators have about 500 wells to plug and abandon. It is a big challenge and an extremely expensive process.

'If we can work together and find new technologies and get new suppliers in the supply chain, there is great potential to make Yarmouth and the wider Norfolk area the hub for plugging and abandonment and decommissioning in the SNS.'

EEEGR chief executive Simon Gray said the East of England's low cost base compared to Aberdeen would help the region to ride difficult times and collaboration on projects was crucial.

See page five for report on oil and gas industry challenges.