Robert Gordon University (RGU) in the UK has set up a new decommissioning simulator in Aberdeen for the of oil and gas industry.

The new simulator, which is designed to focus on well-plugging and abandonment (P&A), has been established by RGU partnership with The Oil & Gas Technology Centre, KCA Deutag and Drilling Systems as funding partners and Baker Hughes as technical support provider.

Claimed to be the world’s first of its kind, the simulator and the associated software can be used by oil and gas operators and service companies for planning and preparation for P&A.

RGU Oil and Gas Institute director Paul de Leeuw said: “Operators and drilling contractors will be able to use the simulator to develop the technical and non-technical skills and capabilities of their rig crews for decommissioning wells, while improving team performance."

Similar to the way pilots get tested on flight simulators, the new simulator supports decommissioning activities with potential to enhance the safety, improve efficiency and reduce the decommissioning cost associated with oil and gas wells.

Drilling Systems COO Clive Battisby said: “In this case using the physical tool data and CAD drawings taken from customer’s real-world downhole tools, has been added into the simulation to create a package of decommissioning tools to allow knowledge and skills to be learnt in a safe learning and very realistic environment.”

RGU said that the well-plugging and abandonment is a growing sector, with around 2,500 wells planned to be decommissioned across the UK, Danish, Dutch and Norwegian Continental Shelves.

The P&A activity is estimated to cost more than £8bn over the next decade in the UK, RGU noted.

The Oil & Gas Technology Centre well construction solution centre manager Malcolm Banks said: “The Oil & Gas Technology Centre is delighted to be co-funding this exciting new facility that will help companies improve planning for the decommissioning of wells and accelerate technologies to drive efficiency and reduce costs in this growing area of the industry.

“With 12 well-related projects and field trials ongoing, and many more in the pipeline, state-of-the-art facilities like this decommissioning simulator, are essential as we aim to unlock the full potential of the North Sea and anchor our supply chain in North East Scotland.”

Image: The Robert Gordon University’s new decommissioning simulator will focus on well-plugging and abandonment. Photo: courtesy of Robert Gordon University.