An estimated 3000 oil wells need to be plugged and abandoned on the Norwegian Continental Shelf (NCS), with approximately 150 new wells being drilled each year. The petroleum industry estimates the total plugging costs to be almost 900 billion Norwegian kroner, and that the work will take up to 40 years to complete. Due to the current tax regulations in Norway, the state indirectly pays 78% of the costs (about 700 billion Norwegian kroner). It is therefore vital to reduce expenses by targeted research and development (R&D) of new technology, and to ensure better planning of plug and abandonment (P&A) operations in and between licenses.

The current study aims to gather available data relevant for Norwegian P&A operations in an open source database – and to develop and use a P&A planning software to derive plugging costs in various scenarios. The software may be used to identify bottlenecks in P&A operations and analyze potential efficiency gains from technology improvements both for single operations and on a system level. We will use a cross-disciplinary approach that combines the fields of operations research with technological expertise.

In this paper, we present the outline of the database and the current status of available data for P&A operations on the NCS, as well as a short literature review. Available data is categorized according to the different choices that need to be made within a single P&A operation, both with regards to technological aspects and existing regulatory framework. We also show how this database will be used to develop a first version of the P&A planning software.

Industry, government and ordinary tax payers will all benefit from knowledge sharing, optimized planning, and more targeted R&D efforts on this topic. The results from this study will be used to identify important cost drivers and to draw up a roadmap for future P&A-related R&D.

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