North Sea decommissioning sparks paperwork questions

No simple task in determining what gets kept and what gets tossed for files on legacy operations in the North Sea, a trade group says.
By Daniel J. Graeber Follow @dan_graeber Contact the Author   |  Jan. 4, 2018 at 8:58 AM
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Jan. 4 (UPI) -- With decommissioning of some of the aging infrastructure in the North Sea under way, a trade group is making plans for what to do with all the paperwork.

"Over the 40-plus year lifespan of an offshore asset, many thousands of boxes of physical records, and millions of electronic files are created," Daniel Brown, the manager for Common Data Access, a subsidiary of trade group Oil & Gas U.K., said in a statement. "Once the asset is removed to be dismantled, many of the records associated with it are no longer required -- but deciding what must be retained, and what may lawfully be destroyed, is not a simple task."

The government estimated it could cost about $77.3 billion to decommission offshore infrastructure. Some of the smaller rigs have already been dismantled as some of the oil and gas fields in the British waters of the North Sea reach the end of the production lifespan.

Last year, Royal Dutch Shell started the process of taking down legacy operations at the Bravo production platform in the North Sea, which supports the Brent oil field.

Operations at the Delta platform ended in 2011 and the Alpha and Bravo platforms were shut down in 2014. Field maturation has forced the idling of the production platforms and Shell is in the midst of a multi-million-dollar plan to take them down.

Common Data Access is working with Shell and scholars at the University of Aberdeen to outline a record retention schedule to help operators determine what they need to save and what they can throw away.

"A freely available records retention schedule is a first for the oil and gas industry, and we hope it will prove a great time saver as companies seek to meet their legal obligations while recognizing their individual business drivers to retain or dispose of asset information," Brown said.

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