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A new national research centre focused on what happens to oil and gas infrastructure when it’s no longer needed has been unveiled by the University of Aberdeen today. 

SFC supported the development of the National Decommissioning Centre (NDC), which is the result of £38m partnership between the Oil & Gas Technology Centre and the University of Aberdeen, as part of the Aberdeen City Region Deal
Combining industry expertise with academic excellence, the NDC aims to work in partnership with companies to become the global leader in R&D focused on reducing costs, extending field and asset life, and transforming the traditional approach to decommissioning.

100 offshore platforms and 7,500km of pipeline are forecast to be decommissioned or reused over the next decade on the UK Continental Shelf. With costs estimated to reach £60bn by 2050, the NDC will help deliver the £21bn savings target set by industry regulator, The Oil & Gas Authority.

By linking industry demand and expertise with academic capability and skills in the field, the NDC aims to help create competitive advantage, not only for the oil and gas industry, but for decommissioning challenges in the wider energy sector such as offshore renewables.

Home to the most powerful industrial laser at any UK academic institution, the NDC features a hyperbaric testing vessel which can simulate ocean conditions 6,500m, an indoor freshwater immersion tank, environmental chambers for temperature testing from -40C to +180C and hangar space for the design and construction of decommissioning technology.

SFC contributed £50,000 to the project, which enabled the conclusion of the NDC’s full business plan and an additional capital investment of £1.9m from the Scottish Government’s Decommissioning Challenge Fund, as well as supporting the first cohort of the University of Aberdeen’s new MSc in Decommissioning.

The three month projects undertaken by the MSc students enabled work place learning with key stakeholders involved in the decommissioning and late life industry, including the regulators, industry partners and industry bodies. Their projects covered a range of disciplines from engineering, environmental science, to economics and law all relating to decommissioning challenges.

Dr Stuart Fancey, Director of Research and Innovation for the Scottish Funding Council said:

“SFC is very pleased to have supported the development of the NDC and to have contributed to funding the first cohort of MSc Students in Decommissioning, giving Scottish oil and gas businesses timely access to the skilled workforce they need for the decommissioning opportunity ahead.

This cutting edge facility is a fantastic asset for Scotland and provides industry with an open door to our world-leading research and development, boosting our economy through the maintenance and decommissioning of existing oil and gas infrastructure.”