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Embracing the circular economy


The term ‘circular economy’ is increasingly finding its way into the consciousness of individuals, businesses and governments, as sustainability becomes a top priority for all. The Scottish Government’s Zero Waste Scotland programme is just one example of how the principles of a circular economy are being placed at the core of legislation, however there is still a long way to go because in the oil and gas industry, sustainability is largely only thought of in terms of scrapping or recycling, and the opportunity to reuse is missed.

During the process of plugging and abandonment of a well and ultimately, the decommissioning of the surface and subsea infrastructure, the larger steel structures are currently sent back to shore to be cut up and recycled at various scrapyards around the world. Unfortunately, however, in doing so the valuable components which are attached to these structures also end up at the scrapyard. In the majority of cases these components are in a good working condition and are therefore perfectly reusable.

This problem is further compounded by the fact that the spares for these surface and subsea assets, which have been held at both internal and external sites for years incurring large storage fees, are also deemed redundant so end up in the scrapyards too, where the opportunity to be reused is again missed.

Reuse is a core principle of the notion of the circular economy, and in the longer term will present a multitude of benefits to the oil and gas industry such as reduced costs, lead times and waste to dispose of. Over a longer period, standardisation and commoditisation would also promote the reuse of larger and higher-value equipment, resulting in reducing currently lengthy field development costs, without compromising safety.

Reuse underpins Legacy Locker; the name given to a range of services which SEA provides to oil companies to support legacy and often obsolete operational subsea assets. The unique service offers the refurbishment and recertification of equipment for the subsea production controls market - helping companies extract the maximum value from their assets.

An inventory of refurbished spares that can be purchased or rented, Legacy Locker enables oil and gas operators to maintain production. For example, Legacy Locker recently provided remanufactured and recertified electrical jumper assemblies to North Sea oil and gas independent, Chrysaor, in just 36 hours from the point of order.

Speed was crucial for the project with the jumper assemblies needed in just a day and a half to ensure that operations could continue as scheduled. By using spare parts stored within Legacy Locker’s inventory, the assemblies were engineered and recertified with the correct connectors to provide Chrysaor with the equipment that it needed. This removed what would have been a long wait for the jumper assemblies to be remanufactured and supplied and meant that an existing piece of equipment could be reused.

Speaking after the project, Mike Bavidge, Subsea Controls System Engineer at Chrysaor, commented: “SEA’s Legacy Locker was able to provide support for this project very quickly. The responsiveness of the Legacy Locker team mitigated a lot of the pressure and stress from the situation so that the equipment and vessel could head offshore as planned.”

A clear benefit of moving towards reuse is that it allows the industry to benefit from shorter lead times compared to new manufacture, meaning that operations can go ahead as planned and prevent costly delays. To maximise the value of its existing assets and support investments in growth and sustainability, the industry should support a more circular economy – and embrace the reuse principle fully.

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Published: 27-11-2018
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