A SCOTS tech start-up has undertaken a feasability testing programme for a new tool that they hope could halve the costs and emissions of well decommissioning projects.
Clearwell Technology’s Therm-X-Mill® is thermal milling technology that could transform the current methods of oil and gas well decommissioning by eliminating the use of drilling rigs and their associated equipment.
The company is now looking ahead to the next stage of development which will involve further testing, development of a prototype tool and field trials prior to full-scale commercialisation.
Scottish Enterprise’s head of low carbon transition Andy McDonald, said: “Evidence from industry reports highlight that the decommissioning market is growing, especially as more focus is spent on energy transition activities and less on drilling new wells.
“This creates opportunities for companies like Clearwell Technology to provide decommissioning technology that will help aid the wider global energy transition agenda and it is fantastic to see a company from Aberdeenshire take forward this innovation.
“Scottish Enterprise aims to nurture entrepreneurial talent to build a stronger, more sustainable Scottish economy and projects like this highlight the collaborative approach to delivering net zero solutions taking place here in Scotland.”
According to a Decom Insights report from Offshore Energies UK, the decommissioning market is currently around 12% of UK offshore industry expenditure with forecasts of over £16bn due to be spent over the next decade and around 4,000 wells estimated still to be decommissioned.
In addition, the recent North Sea Transition Deal set out the sector’s decommissioning supply chain target to ensure 50% local content around projects – all creating opportunities for Scottish businesses.
Director of Clearwell Technology Bruce Cardno, said: “As energy companies focus on transition our technology aims to make the oil and gas well decommissioning process simpler and more environmentally friendly, whilst also releasing resources to drive net zero projects in the industry.
“Almost half the cost of any decommissioning project is spent on the plugging and abandonment of the wells so by reducing this cost with our Therm-X-Mill® tool we aim to transform the industry’s approach.
“We are ramping up our testing from our site in Aboyne as we progress towards prototype development so this is a really exciting time for us, and we are hugely thankful for the support from Scottish Enterprise to help drive our technology.”