Strength in depth

Following a recent flurry of new contracts, Marine Subsea UK is currently carrying out a multi-client well abandonment programme for a number of North Sea operators. Managing director Alasdair Cowie talks to  Meg Chesshyre about how he sees the multiclient approach as the way forward, and not just for decommissioning.

In a campaign designed to spread the mobilisation and transit costs associated with decommissioning activity, Marine Subsea UK is using its specialist DP3 light well intervention vessel Sarah to plug and abandon a single category 2.2 and four category 1 suspended subsea wells, spread across a large area of the North Sea. The contracts, worth more than $2 million, are with a number of oil and gas operators including DNO, Bayerngas UK and Tullow.

Aberdeen-based Marine Subsea UK is leading the project to perforate, cement and carry out abrasive severing and recovery of the wells. The company is also responsible for the recovery and disposal of residual oil-based muds and is looking at new technology to separate out the solids, water and hydrocarbons.

Cowie says: ‘We bring significant cost savings using this multi-client approach, helping to cut the expense of subsea decommissioning. '

Sarah, an Ulstein SX121 vessel rated for operations in 3000m of water, has deck capacity of 1470m2 and its features include a tower, main crane and two heavy duty workclass ROVs. Both the140t heave compensated tower and crane are rated for 2500m water depth. A sister vessel, Karianne, is due for delivery in October.

The hulls of the vessels have been built in the Ukraine, while completion and commissioning has been performed at the Ulstein Group's shipyard in west Norway. The vessels have the characteristic new X-Bow shape, designed to boost fuel efficiency, provide more space for accommodation in the vessel's bow of the vessel and improve motion characteristics.

Marine Subsea operates a fleet of vessels including two multipurpose/ intervention vessels, five offshore support units and one semi-submersible crane vessel. In addition to the Karianne, a semisubmersible heavy lift support vessel will be delivered in 2012. The company sees decommissioning as a key element of this vessel's work plan.

Marine Subsea AS was set up in 2006. In August 2009 Cowie led a management buyout of the trade and assets of TSMarine (Contracting) with the support of Marine Subsea AS. Cowie, the former chief executive officer of TSMarine, then moved into the MD slot at Marine Subsea UK.

Over the past five years the Aberdeen organisation has been involved in over 50 subsea well decommissioning operations (first as TSMarine then Marine Subsea). Its focus in the UKCS remains in the subsea decommissioning and well intervention market segment.

‘The requirements to perform well abandonment will increase and the operators are looking to the most economical way to do this,' says Cowie. ‘The operating condition of the well and the decommissioning methodology varies. Also to be considered is the governmental regime under which each country looks at decommissioning and the requirements by the oil and gas companies to undertake this. Overall, the North Sea remains the focus of the decommissioning business but this will evolve and branch out into other regions in due course. The key question is when and how?' OE

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