New Asia-Pac guideline could kick-start the region’s decommissioning program

Regional agreement seen as historic move toward regulatory clarity and the unblocking of a major market.

Following a three-year development period, the ASEAN Council on Petroleum (ASCOPE) is moving ahead with a guideline for a common approach to decommissioning.

The ASCOPE Decommissioning Guideline for Oil and Gas Facilities (ADG), approved last year and due for release in the coming months, sets out to provide a common technical reference for ASEAN countries.

An expert who helped draft the guideline says a lack of regulation in the region has been one cause of a serious decommissioning backlog, and he hopes that the ADG will pave the way for a regulatory framework – one that is more flexible than those governing the North Atlantic and the Gulf of Mexico.

Dr. Brian Twomey, an advisor to ASCOPE in producing the guide, told DecomWorld that the guideline was “a first step on the road, which hopefully helps bring clarity, simplicity and flexibility.”

Dr. Twomey believes that as many as a third of the estimated 1,700 offshore facilities in the broader Asia-Pacific region now need to be decommissioned.

“Without clear decommissioning legislation, the engineers and cost estimators do not know the rules of the game and cannot produce accurate cost estimates,” he said.

He added that the European and North American regulatory approaches were too prescriptive and ASCOPE had been keen to learn the lessons – both positive and negative – of these approaches.

“Obviously, the regulations have a vast effect on cost,” he said. “The tighter and more prescriptive the regulations are, the more restricted industry is in finding the right solution and, usually, the higher the cost.”

ASCOPE was also advised by Olav Fjellså, a board member of the Norwegian government foundation, Petrad, which promotes knowledge sharing between experts in governments and national oil companies (NOCs).

Comprising 10 member states, ASCOPE says the ADG “aims to establish a balance between environmental protection, cost, safety and technical considerations in accordance with applicable global and regional conventions and guidelines”.

“I see this as a living document – not perfect but a start,” said Dr. Twomey, managing director of Reverse Engineering Ltd.. “It’s a work in progress. Over time, as we learn, it will evolve and be upgraded.”

Dr. Twomey discusses the latest Asia Pacific decommissioning developments in detail as part of an exclusive interview, conducted in association with the 5th Annual Offshore Decommissioning Training Workshop – access the full interview here.

Dr. Twomey will be presenting at DecomWorld’s 5th Annual Offshore Decommissioning Training Workshop, Kuala Lumpur, Oct 31 – Nov 1. 

Access this year’s expert speaker line and detailed agenda here