Abandonment of offshore oil and gas fields

Over the coming decades a substantial number of oil and gas wells in the Danish Sector of the North Sea will have to be plugged and abandoned. This abandonment work will not only be cost and time consuming; it may also have a large impact on the environment both in the short and long term. The Centre has started a new research programme with focus on the specific challenges in the Danish North Sea with the aim of ‘robust and cost effective abandonment for short and long term environmental protection’.

The Gorm platform in the North Sea. Photo: TotalEnergies

After a thorough selection process, the Abandonment programme will initially consist of eleven projects covering five different themes.

1. Temporary Pumpable Reservoir Isolation

Within this theme, the selected projects will aim at finding pumpable barrier materials to safely isolate oil and gas wells during the abandonment process. The materials will be developed specifically for the conditions and operations in the Danish North Sea. 

2. Combination of Scale and Cement as barrier

The aim of this research theme is to understand the cement behavior over time after the abandonment of the oil and gas wells and in addition, to evaluate if the scale in the wellbore can remain in the wells and form part of the future barrier.

3. Shallow Permeable Zones

There are other permeable zones above the oil and gas production reservoirs, which potentially could contain hydrocarbons and therefore need to be abandoned. The objective of this research theme is to create an overview of where such shallow zones have flow potential / are hydrocarbon bearing and therefore require abandonment.

4. Environmental Baseline

An environmental baseline is important in order to minimise the impact of the decommissioning work on the environment. The projects within this theme will work towards baseline understanding both with respect to the natural hydrocarbon seepage and with respect to the marine life.

5. Surveillance of Abandoned Wells

The aim of this theme is to develop a sensor to measure potential future methane leaks at the seabed. Having a sensor available is important for surveillance of the abandoned wells over time.

The eleven selected projects wary in length between 1 year and up to 3.5 years.