Sea of opportunity
Over the last decade, AF Decom Offshore has established itself as a market leader in the removal, demolition and recycling of offshore installations in the North Sea.
The company is most active in its home market of Norway, but also engages with all major operators within the North Sea looking at options for the safe and environmentally friendly removal and recycling of the different structures.
As part of the international engineering and construction firm AF Gruppen, AF Decom Offshore was built upon the demolition experience of its land-based sister division AF Decom. The business also boasts its own purpose-built decommissioning yard, AF Environmental Base Vats, which is the most advanced of its kind in Europe, featuring hightech equipment to deliver complete dismantling and recycling services.
“AF Decom Offshore has positioned itself as one of the leading decommissioning services companies in the North Sea through our involvement in the removal and recycling of over 20 different structures to date. AF Decom Offshore has a vast range of experience in the engineering, management and execution of Piece Small, Reverse Installation, and Single Piece Removals – the three main decommissioning methodologies being used today. In combination with this experience and our existing deep water Environmental Base in Vats, Norway we have proposed a new deep water base in Dales Voe in Shetland in development with Lerwick Port Authority. This means we can support our clients in the most suitable decommissioning methodology for their asset,” highlights Amund Tøftum, project director.
Over the last 12 months AF Decom Offshore has continued to grow, with another successful season on the Ekofisk EPRD project, which is the largest decommissioning project in the North Sea, spanning the hookdown and disposal of at least nine Ekofisk platforms. “We were also awarded two decommissioning projects for the removal of the Statfjord Loading Buoy and the H7 Platform. The latter is an especially interesting project where we are planning to utilise an offshore wind construction vessel to carry out the decommissioning of the platform in the German sector,” adds Amund.
In April 2011 AF Decom Offshore took the first step of its expansion into the UK with the appointment of its first UK employee, which was followed in September by the opening of the company’s new Aberdeen office. Since then the employee base has grown with these individuals currently undergoing training in Norway. Elaborating on the reasons behind this global shift, Amund says: “A number of decommissioning liability studies on aging assets have been completed on behalf of operators, as they look towards decommissioning, which indicates that this market in the UK seems to be coming closer.
“Over the next decade alone the decommissioning industry has indicated that over 15 structures in the Central and Northern sectors of the UKCS will be removed. With all of the operators’ management and operations being situated in Aberdeen the natural step to support these clients was to have a local presence. The benefits of this will include local personnel, with not only knowledge of the industry, but also of the local supply chain, which is important in the success of any project,” he continues.
One of the main challenges of the decommissioning industry is the sheer array of external influences that have an effect on the cessation of production date of an offshore installation, ranging from the price of oil to the latest taxation structure, and technological advances in production capabilities. “This is one of the reasons for AF Decom Offshore’s entry to the rig services market, which will allow use of existing personnel and resources. This strategic decision, which will complement our core business, was made after successfully assisting in the completion of maintenance and modification works on two drillships at our Environment Base Vats. This is an ideal facility with its 182 metre long, 24-metre deep quay and access to 68,000 m2 to complete an array of differing workscopes. Additionally we are looking at opportunities to utilise our skills and experience in other projects with clients in different parts of the world,” elaborates Amund.
AF Decom Offshore’s foray into the UK market is a good example of this, and given predications that the North Sea alone will require the removal of more than 400 offshore structures, it places the company at the forefront of this activity. Specifically with the investment already committed to Vats, and the development of Dales Voe, AF Decom Offshore is confident in strengthening its decommissioning heritage to date and its ability to grow into one of the leading contractors in Europe.
AF Decom Offshore
Services: Offshore structure dismantling and recycling