Robert Gordon University launches “world-first” decom simulator

World-first decom simulator; Image: RGU

Aberdeen’s Robert Gordon University (RGU) has launched what it says is a decommissioning simulator to service the growing sector.

RGU said that the simulator, launched on Monday, and associated software – a world-first – would be used to support decommissioning activities in the UK and other parts of the world as well as benefit students through training and development.

The university, in collaboration with funding partners The Oil and Gas Technology Centre, KCA Deutag, and Drilling Systems, with technical support from Baker Hughes, a GE Company (BHGE), established the simulator to focus on well-plugging and abandonment (P&A).

According to RGU, P&A is an area which is forecast to cost the UK more than £8 billion over the next decade, with around 2,500 wells expected to be decommissioned across the UK, Danish, Dutch, and Norwegian continental shelves.

P&A is an area which is forecast to cost the UK more than £8 billion over the next decade 

Professor Paul de Leeuw, director of RGU’s Oil and Gas Institute, said: “By providing this facility at RGU to simulate well decommissioning, we will ultimately be able to enhance safety and reduce the cost of well P&A.

“Operators and drilling contractors will be able to use the simulator to develop the technical and non-technical skills and capabilities of their rig crews for decommissioning wells while improving team performance.”

As for the simulator, it can support both oil and gas operators and service companies with the planning and preparation for well P&A, in a similar way pilots get trained and tested on flight simulators. The university also said that the simulator had the potential to significantly enhance safety, improve efficiency, and reduce costs associated with decommissioning oil and gas wells.

Malcolm Banks, well construction solution center manager at the Oil & Gas Technology Centre, said: “The center is working in partnership with the industry and technology providers to develop new solutions that will revolutionize well construction, increase automation, improve integrity, and transform plugging, and abandonment.

“With 12 well-related projects and field trials ongoing, and many more in the pipeline, state-of-the-art facilities like this decommissioning simulator, are essential as we aim to unlock the full potential of the North Sea and anchor our supply chain in North East Scotland.”

“As a world-leading drilling and engineering contractor, we continually strive to enhance the skills not only of our own personnel, but those working across the industry.  We are therefore delighted to be partnering with RGU as a center of excellence to launch this innovative new training simulator,” added Rune Lorentzen, KCA Deutag president of offshore and RDS.

Clive Battisby, COO Drilling Systems, said: “Working once again with RGU, the new decommissioning simulator shows how our close collaborative partnership and expertise really works to create truly custom cutting edge real-time training simulations and systems.”

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