Offshore in depth

After attending the World Oil Forecast Breakfast in Houston, one may be forgiven for believing that low oil prices are causing the demise of the petroleum industry. After painting a gloomy picture for 2015, World Oil’s editors calmed attendees by saying that “industry fundamentals” should return the oil patch to prosperity in 2016. This column’s topic, platform decommissioning, was not inspired by Kurt Abraham’s downbeat U.S. forecast (which reality forced him to deliver). The real story is that platform decommissioning is a necessary step in offshore energy development, and it is being carried out responsibly through coordination between oil and gas companies, and numerous state and federal agencies. Idle Iron policy. Offshore operating companies know, from the time that they sign an offshore lease, that eventually they will be required to plug and abandon their wells, and remove any structures within a year of the lease’s expiration. Since the first offshore well was drilled off Terrebonne Parish, La., in 1947, more than 7,000 platforms have been installed, and about 4,000 of these have been decommissioned. More than 40% of the remaining 3,000 production platforms on the OCS are more than 25 years old.

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