Photo: Heather platform; Source: EnQuest (For illustration purposes)

UK regulator scraps CoP reports requirement to bolster energy security

UK’s regulator, the North Sea Transition Authority (NSTA), says that the industry will make significant savings in time and money following its move to cut red tape and scrap the requirement for Cessation of Production (CoP) reports.

The reports, which were produced when an operator was preparing to abandon a field, provided valuable information on matters including production history, recovery factor, operational costs, decommissioning outline, and potential infrastructure re-use. This was to establish whether a field had achieved maximum economic recovery, and developed all prospectivity in the area.

According to the NSTA, preparing a CoP report in some cases could tie up two members of operators’ staff for up to six months. However, the revised Stewardship Survey, combined with data available from other sources, ensures that the information is still obtained, without the need to report it twice. In rare cases where further information is required, the NSTA may use the Stewardship Strategy to undertake prioritised and targeted reviews, the regulator explained.

The number of reports has averaged 16 a year in the past five years, with 25 in 2021, and given the amount of staff time no longer required, the industry will save millions of pounds.

The CoP reports themselves were never published as they contained commercially confidential material. However, operators could use some of the information when submitting a Relinquishment Report.

The time freed up within the NSTA will allow the teams to devote more attention to carbon capture and storage stewardship, electrification project oversight and hydrogen – all emerging workstreams which help to deliver the UK net zero ambitions.

Brenda Wyllie, NSTA Area Manager, said: “We are absolutely committed to supporting industry in its twin goals of bolstering security of supply and cutting greenhouse gas emissions. This move frees up time for operators to focus on those core tasks and creates time for NSTA staff to support the energy transition.

“It is important that the NSTA and industry adapt to changing priorities and review our workflows for efficiency savings. Dropping the CoP reports is an example of that and I am sure this will be welcomed by industry, providing them a reduced work burden too.”

As part of its efforts to boost the country’s energy security amid the current energy crisis, the NSTA last month launched the 33rd offshore oil and gas licensing round, the UK’s first since 2019.

The regulator also recommended several measures that could help boost the oil and gas production in the North Sea in the coming years.