How we connect with one another – in both a personal and professional sense – has been so disrupted over the last two years. Some of it in a very positive way, but there is no doubting that I have really missed the value that in-person connections can bring.
It was a real delight to be at the Offshore Decommissioning Conference, hosted by OGUK, in St Andrews, Scotland this week. Back together, ‘in real life’, with clients, peers, colleagues (new and old!), and partners – there really is no substitute for it.
What I’m reflecting on though, is the value that being together and having open, honest, collaborative conversations can bring. In just a few days, my confidence and optimism in our ability to deliver a net-zero decommissioning era has skyrocketed.
Our industry is in the spotlight as we face the stark realities of the climate emergency, with high expectations of the role we will collectively play in combating it. This week showed me that those working in our industry feel just as passionately. There is so much energy in the proverbial room to do different, to commit to carbon emission reductions, to deliver on ambitious targets and – above all – to lead the change.
In my presentation at the conference, I talked about what a ‘net-zero decommissioning’ sector looks like. The most energising part of that discussion is that it’s not a whimsical ideology – we’re already doing it and there are some stellar examples right across our sector of best-in-class decommissioning practice in this regard.
Be it deploying an integrated wind and solar-powered EnergyPod to power Jacky in its final stages of life, or leveraging existing infrastructure to unlock the Hynet and Acorn hydrogen and carbon capture projects, respectively, we are already seeing an unstoppable momentum at Wood.
But we know that there is still a journey to walk.
OGUK’s latest Decommissioning Insights Report tells us that 89 topsides and jackets are planned for removal by 2024 – that’s a significant amount of activity and a significant amount of spend in not a lot of time.
That means the time to make a net-zero decommissioning industry a reality is now.
For me, there are two fundamental imperatives: integrating decarbonisation into decommissioning design and engineering, and repurposing assets and infrastructure to accelerate industrial decarbonisation and promote a circular economy.
Delivering on these imperatives won’t happen by accident. It will take bold commitment to embed decarbonisation principles at the heart of strategy and, even more importantly, decision-making and delivery.
And that will take us all – it will take diverse expertise, a (truly!) collaborative approach, and a behavioural and mindset shift to make it possible. And after a few days in St Andrews, immersed in the rich knowledge, experience, passion and drive that our industry has in spades, delivering a net-zero decommissioning era in the North Sea is a new, shared purpose, and we will become the north star for other maturing basins around the world.
It’s a truly exciting time – the passion and potential are palpable. Now it’s time to realise it!