Australia is an inexperienced player in field abandonments with early efforts proving complex, high cost, and with last minute approvals due to regulatory and social concerns. Whilst many companies are on top of the costs, they are often isolated from the latest innovations or focused on the next 2-3 years operations. Looking forward, abandonment expenditure will accelerate and be sustained with most companies active and more coming (e.g. Bass Strait, Rankin etc.). Between 2016 and 2030, the overall impact of decommissioning is estimated at $5 billion to $7 billion with the government exposed to up to 60% of this cost through taxes or higher if left with the liability. Considering uncertainty in the regulations, the industry, NOPSEMA and the Government need to deal with what can be left on the sea floor, NORM-related disposals, handling onshore and transfer of liability. Their duty is to protect the environment, provide the platform for safe operations, maximise value for stakeholders but also avoid the taxpayer bearing increased costs/rebates from inefficient programmes. On the cost side, many companies are looking to upgrade abandonment capabilities, and take advantage of new technologies and approaches. However, capabilities and experience are short and regulations unclear. Even so, not all will be equal in their diligence and provisions and hence we are likely to see missed opportunities as an industry. Looking at case studies in Gulf Coast, North Sea and Australia tells us there are many lessons learnt and successes that we should be employing from both environmental and cost angles – e.g. most abandonments struggle with unclear regulations and well/facility deterioration and barrier issues. With these challenges and risks, leadership from all stakeholders should come together to better define and select innovative concepts for decommissioning that moves to sustainable, acceptable and high-value solutions for all stakeholders in the coming years.

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