EnQuest submits North Sea decommissioning plan fifteen years early

EnQuest, the UK-listed operator, has submitted plans to decommission a North Sea development and its production vessel less than five years after achieving first oil. Formed in 2010, EnQuest operates a host of fields in the northern and central North Sea as well as offshore Malaysia. The firm has submitted plans to the UK government to shut down the fields and take the vessel to shore for recycling, despite hopes it would be in production for another 15 years.

The operator said the project had been hit by a combination of 'electric submersible pump failures' and more natural decline than expected. They replaced three electric submersible pumps in 2018, the lower performance and costs of any further remedial work made the project uneconomic to continue producing. When EnQuest came to first oil in 2015, it estimated just 30% of the 307 million barrels initially in place had been tapped.  The firm is exploring reuse options so the decommissioning plans could change if these are 'found to be viable and more appropriate'.

A spokeswoman said: 'By phasing the decommissioning programme over a reasonable time frame, we are able to explore the potential for cost and efficiency synergies as other operators also enter the decommissioning phase for their assets. 'In the meantime, we are exploring opportunities for the re-use of the Floating, Production, Storage and Offloading Vessel.”'Well decommissioning activities are expected to take place in 2025 or 2026, with the cessation of production plans now under consideration by the Oil and Gas Authority.

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