Well-Safe Solutions broadens offering with new subsurface team lead role

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Well decommissioning experts Well-Safe Solutions have appointed Mark Davison as the company’s Subsurface Team Lead, as the company expands the breadth of its service offering to include all aspects of subsurface plug and abandonment (P&A) design.

Mark has over 30 years of industry experience in a career as a geoscientist, having worked for energy majors and service companies including Shell and Schlumberger in Europe, Africa, North America and Australasia.

Well-Safe Solutions has seen an increase in enquiries from operators looking to better understand where and why subsurface barriers should be set. The correct identification, implementation and communication of an appropriate subsurface isolation strategy is a vital but often misunderstood part of P&A planning – and Mark will lead Well-Safe Solution’s capability to bring extensive North Sea experience to operators and regulators around the world.

Speaking from Well-Safe Solutions’ global headquarters in Aberdeen, UK, Mark said: “Well-Safe Solutions continues to go from strength to strength, and with the Well-Safe Guardian embarking on a considerable scope of work this year, I’m delighted to have joined the team at such an exciting period of progress.

“I am excited to lead the development of Well-Safe Solution’s subsurface capability, providing peer support to clients to optimise well decommissioning strategies while ensuring regulatory compliance.

“Together with my new colleagues, I look forward to developing robust well plug and abandonment and subsurface isolation strategies.”

Prior to joining Well-Safe Solutions, Mark was the Global Discipline Lead for Geomechanics at Shell, focusing on development of subsurface workflows for various global P&A projects in the North Sea, Middle East, South China Sea and South America.

James Richards, Well Abandonment Director, added: “Mark’s compelling track record make him a clear fit for Well-Safe Solutions, and we’re thrilled to welcome him into his new role.

“His appointment is of great value to us, as his subsurface expertise and its application to well decommissioning will be vital in assisting the business to deliver safe, efficient well plug and abandonment design and operation to clients.”

Mark holds a both a PhD and BSc in Geology, and is responsible for three patents relating to well completion and production engineering. He has published over 20 papers in specialist academic and industry journals to date.

Mark’s addition to the Well-Safe Solutions team continues the group’s progressive expansion, with 99 employees joining the business during 2021.

The ‘how’ of well decommissioning

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What would you do with £46 billion?

That’s the forecasted total cost of decommissioning all of the UKCS’ offshore oil and gas infrastructure currently in place today [OGA UKCS Decommissioning Cost Estimate 2021]. Looking at the UKCS in total, there are over 4,000 wells awaiting decommissioning, with 893 inactive suspended wells [OGA UKCS Decommissioning Benchmarking Report 2021].

While the decommissioning industry in the UK continues to grow in economic and sociopolitical importance, there’s still a lot of work to be done as part of the UK’s commitment to responsibly managing its petroleum legacy. The eyes of the world are upon the North Sea, as the forthcoming decade is set to see several legacy assets move into the decommissioning phase – and our industry regulators, stakeholders and strategies put to the test.

Why are P&A campaigns so important?

Simply put, plug and abandonment (P&A) campaigns are a key tool in helping the decommissioning industry achieve the 35% cost reduction target mapped out by the Oil & Gas Authority in 2016. While approximately 9% of UKCS platforms have been decommissioned to date, many operators in the industry have learned through experience that well decommissioning methodologies are different to those required for drilling.  Decommissioning is not simply the reverse of the exploration and production mindset seen in the installation process – and many operators and regulators are looking to the North Sea for guidance on how best to do it.

While P&A campaigns have been carried out previously, these have been on a relatively small scale, and focused primarily on suspended exploration and appraisal wells only. We believe that the industry can benefit immensely from the operational continuity and efficiencies of scale achieved by P&A campaigns, with clear performance benefits for those willing to embrace the change.

What does the industry require?

Given the North Sea’s compelling heritage as an international trailblazer of new technologies and methodologies, we passionately believe that the decommissioning industry requires specialists focused solely on well decommissioning. Service companies with assets tailored to P&A activity –  supported by a team of experts experienced in the unique challenges of decommissioning work –  will be best-placed to make the most of a continuous learning curve based on experience with multiple operators.

In addition, the importance of early client engagement and collaboration is vital in ensuring alignment with multiple operators and their diverse requirements. Flexibility between clients and organisations enhances understanding and collaboration, helping to break down silos of information.

How can we carry out decommissioning effectively?

While key tenets of well decommissioning design, technology and methodology remain fairly constant,  our experience to date has shown that decommissioning requirements are far from ‘one size fits all’. What Well-Safe Solutions has dubbed the ‘Lego brick approach’ enables clients to piece together a bespoke decommissioning package; scaleable and tailor-made to suit distinct project needs.

This methodology enables third parties to work hand in glove with in-house teams, unlocking access to unique, low-cost equipment via dedicated plug and abandonment club campaigns. Taking this project-managed approach minimises operator overheads, enables fixed long-term rates and guarantees asset access. In addition, a key benefit of the campaign approach is an exponential learning curve for all parties involved, which generates considerable time savings and efficiencies the more wells in a field are decommissioned.

What does the future look like?

The UKCS is at a pivotal stage in its decommissioning journey, and being one of the most tightly-regulated and safety-conscious mature basins in the world, the UKCS is a bellwether for the wider industry. Going forward, we see continued adoption of the well decommissioning campaign concept becoming the norm – putting in practice a much-needed step change in performance and cost reduction, at no cost to safety.

A key tenet of this coordinated approach will also be the link between improved schedule flexibility and greater scope alignment between operators and decommissioning organisations, while an influx of dedicated well decommissioning assets and crews with deep sector knowledge and experience will speed up the completion rate of projects.

As decommissioning work on the UKCS gathers pace over the next five years, we will start to see even more opportunities to export our ‘lessons learned’ with other nations who are beginning to perform offshore well decommissioning campaigns at scale. It is here that organisations who have been quick to react to initial challenges will be able to reap the rewards of existing value-added partnerships across the supply chain.

Given the sheer size, complexity and technical challenges inherent in decommissioning projects, the opportunity in the years ahead heralds a new era of ingenuity in the North Sea and beyond. It’s up to everyone involved in the decommissioning sector to ensure that our work preserves the UKCS’ world-class reputation as a responsibly managed, mature basin – and that the lessons learned can be used to ensure every penny is wisely spent.

This article originally appeared in the December 2021 issue of Decom News, from Decom North Sea.

Well-Safe Solutions appoints strategy and business development specialist

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Well plug and abandonment specialists Well-Safe Solutions have selected Chris Hay as Director of Strategy and Business Development, as part of the organisation’s continued development of its decommissioning offering in the mature fields of the North Sea.

Chris brings over 16 years of energy industry experience to Well-Safe Solutions, with the majority of career in the integrated well abandonment and offshore drilling sectors. Prior to this role, Chris was responsible for managing the UK commercial activities at a leading global drilling contractor. In addition, Chris has held several senior leadership roles across the North Sea, West Africa and Europe for Tier 1 international service companies.

Commenting on his new role, Chris said: “Well-Safe Solutions occupies a unique position in the exciting decommissioning market, as it owns and operates two world-class, dedicated plug and abandonment (P&A) rigs with highly experienced crews.

“Through organic growth, Well-Safe Solutions continues to secure new contracts through its innovative P&A Club operating model. I’m thrilled to be joining the organisation at a time of considerable progress, and I look forward to further developing a robust business development strategy with the team.”

Graeme Murray, Legal and Commercial Director, said: “Attracting Chris into this newly-created role is a strong endorsement of our operating model so far, and will no doubt add further value to our commercial strategy.

“Chris will play a key role in the continued expansion of the business, as we look to secure further work for our specialist decommissioning rigs the Well-Safe Guardian and Well-Safe Protector in 2022 and beyond.”

Chris holds a Master of Business Administration (MBA) from the Robert Gordon University and an MSc in Project Management from the University of Aberdeen. He is also a Member of the Association for Project Management (APM).

The appointment comes during a period of sustained expansion for Well-Safe Solutions, having added 77 employees so far during 2021.

Earlier this year, Well-Safe secured two major contract wins for the Well-Safe Guardian, which is set to decommission dozens of wells in the Buchan, Hannay, Banff and Kyle fields of the UKCS in 2022.

Well-Safe Solutions announces second contract win for Well-Safe Guardian

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Well-Safe Solutions announces the award of a second contract for the Well-Safe Guardian. The contract is for the provision of the Well-Safe Guardian rig to decommission up to 14 wells on the Banff and Kyle fields in the UKCS.

The Banff and Kyle fields, located in the UK Central North Sea, with nine development wells and five exploration and appraisal wells, are due to be decommissioned with activity scheduled to begin early Q1 2022.

The announcement comes weeks after Well-Safe announced the award of the Repsol Sinopec contract to decommission a further 14 subsea wells located in the Buchan and Hannay fields.

Phil Milton, Chief Executive Officer at Well-Safe Solutions, said: “We are delighted to be able to announce this second contract award. The schedule control provided as part of the Repsol Sinopec contract enables Well-Safe to complete the Banff and Kyle wells during 2022, before returning to Repsol Sinopec with the dive system and Subsea Modular Decommissioning Riser Technology (SMART) system installed.

“This will allow the remaining wells to be completed as part of a continuous campaign, ensuring the rig team and associated supply chain partners optimise efficiencies, retain learnings and deliver our vision for multi-operator, multi-well campaigns.

“We look forward to working together to deliver a safe and successful project with industry-leading performance.”

Notes to editors:
Founded in 2017, WSS is the first-of-its-kind Tier 1 company that provides a complete well plugging and abandonment (P&A) capability to the industry, from front-end engineering and design to project execution.

Well-Safe’s groundbreaking approach to P&A brings together a wealth of oil and gas expertise and experience with significant investment in bespoke, fit-for-purpose, dedicated marine and land-based assets. Acknowledged as a company that has what it takes to solve one of the UK’s biggest industrial challenges, Well-Safe is positioned to meet the needs and regulatory imperatives around

The Well-Safe Guardian is a highly efficient and very experienced Earl & Wright 700 series mid-water Semi-Submersible Unit which has been optimised specifically for Well Decommissioning operations in the UK as part of multi-well, multi-operator well campaigns.

Using innovative technologies, the Subsea Modular Abandonment Riser Technology (SMART) is specifically designed to put minimum stress on older wellheads and trees. The on-board 12 person Saturation Diving System (SDS) ensures solutions are found for older hydraulic and manual tree systems and complex decommissioning operations.

Well-Safe Solutions secures Repsol Sinopec well decommissioning work

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Repsol Sinopec has awarded a multimillion-pound contract to Aberdeen-based Well-Safe Solutions to execute the decommissioning of all wells in its Buchan and Hannay fields.

The contract is the first fully-inclusive well decommissioning contract of its kind and enables Repsol Sinopec and Well-Safe Solutions to manage efficiencies, knowledge and cost.  The schedule control provided as part of this contract enables Well-Safe to deliver its Plug & Abandon (P&A) Club approach helping to deliver a campaign-based approach aligned with the OGA Decommissioning Strategy.

The commercial model represents a step-change from a conventional transactional approach to an outcome-oriented model, empowering the supply chain to deliver the most innovative and efficient solution with a fair shared risk-management philosophy within the contract.

This shift in mind-set has taken considerable time and collaborative effort by both Repsol Sinopec and the supply chain in evolving, concluding and assuring the tender process for this contract.

The contract has been welcomed by OGUK and The Oil & Gas Authority (OGA) as a strong example of collaboration, campaigning and innovation.

José Luis Muñoz, Repsol Sinopec’s Chief Executive Officer, commented today:

“There are 14 subsea wells in the Buchan and Hannay fields that require decommissioning as part of planned activities.  We are pleased to appoint the contract for this work to Well-Safe Solutions, who will take a campaign approach to the work, recognising that schedule flexibility is key to driving efficiency.

“Collaboration has been key to achieving a solution that enables innovation and maximises efficient use of resources, whilst minimising the carbon footprint of the project.  We are pleased the contract has been awarded to an Aberdeen-based company – the agreement will exceed the UK local content target as set in the North Sea Transition deal, of over 50% for decommissioning projects.”

Luis Batalla, Repsol Sinopec’s Head of Decommissioning said:

“The work to be delivered by Well-Safe Solutions aligns with our decommissioning strategy, which is focused on efficiency, performance management, innovative contracting models, technology development and fit for purpose design.  All project delivery will be coordinated and managed by Well-Safe Solutions in accordance with the contract; with Repsol Sinopec retaining oversight of the technical delivery of the project as the well operator.”

Well-Safe Solutions will utilise its purpose-built decommissioning unit specifically designed for decommissioning of subsea wells, the Well-Safe Guardian.  It will be the first time it has deployed its Dive System and Subsea Modular Decommissioning Riser Technology (SMART) system onboard the semi-submersible unit.  The offshore well decommissioning activities are planned to commence in 2022.

Decommissioning in the Buchan and Hannay fields commenced in 2017 with the off-station and onshore recycling of the Buchan Alpha platform, which was completed at Dales Voe in  Lerwick Shetland, after ceasing production as planned in 2017 – after 36 years and almost 150mm barrels of oil produced. The decommissioning and recycling of the Buchan and Hannay Subsea Infrastructure commenced with pre-works in 2019 with final completion of this scope currently ongoing and expected to finish by Q4 2021.

Phil Milton, Chief Executive Officer at Well-Safe Solutions, said:

“This is a fantastic achievement for Well-Safe Solutions. Our team has worked closely with the team at Repsol Sinopec to develop a contracting delivery model that enables this project to be delivered in a manner that aligns with Repsol Sinopec’s decommissioning strategy, OGA’s decommissioning strategy and Well-Safe’s P&A Club approach. With complete schedule control this enables us to optimise our efficiencies, retain learnings and deliver a multi-operator, multi-well campaign.”

Pauline Innes, Head of Decommissioning at the Oil and Gas Authority, said:

“The OGA congratulates Repsol Sinopec Resources UK and Well-Safe Solutions on this ground-breaking agreement, which will provide welcome investment in the UK’s world-class supply chain, as well as employment.

“They have shown what can be achieved when operators and suppliers adopt a collaborative, flexible and innovative approach.

“In our new decommissioning strategy, we pressed the case for the cultivation of a more collaborative culture, including the development of new procurement models, and the adoption of well plugging and decommissioning campaigns.

“We will continue to encourage companies to agree on sizable campaigns which drive greater efficiencies both in terms of cost and CO2 reduction and give the supply chain confidence to invest in new technologies – to the benefit of industry, the Treasury and the environment.”

Katy Heidenreich, OGUK’s supply chain and operations director said:

“Conventional procurement processes will not deliver what our industry needs to be competitive, and it is great to see companies thinking differently, working together to develop innovative contracts that drive enhanced and mutual value. This bold approach, together with a multi-year well campaign, shows how companies committed to OGUK’s Supply Chain Principles are driving a step change in commercial behaviour that unlocks the full potential of the supply chain and improves performance, eliminates unnecessary cost and adds value whilst boosting competitiveness. We encourage others to be bold about how they can drive support for the Principles within their organisations as this is how we will ensure our supply chain is fit and ready for the energy transition challenges of the future.”



For more information please contact:

Gavin Robinson

Commercial Manager



Notes to Editors:

  1. Founded in 2017, Well-Safe Solutions is the first-of-its-kind Tier One company that provides a complete well plug and abandon (P&A) capability to the industry, from front-end engineering and design to project execution. Well-Safe’s ground-breaking approach to P&A brings together a wealth of oil and gas expertise and experience, with significant investment in bespoke, fit for purpose, dedicated marine and land-based assets. Acknowledged as a company that has what it takes to solve one of the UK’s biggest industrial challenges, Well-Safe is positioned to meet the needs and regulatory imperatives around decommissioning.
  2. The Well-Safe Guardian semi-submersible is one of two assets which Well-Safe are bringing to market which are being fully repurposed for well decommissioning scopes. The other asset is the Well-Safe Protector heavy duty jack-up which has compelling advantages for supporting well decommissioning for platform wells, including tactical advantages in preparation for platform removal.
  3. The Oil & Gas UK agency reported in its 2020 Decommissioning Insights reports that 1,616 wells require to be decommissioned in the North Sea over the next decade. This is estimated to provoke a spend of £7.4b, and 60% of that spend happening in the UKCS.

Saturation Diving approved for use on the Well-Safe Guardian

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It has been a real collaborative effort between Well-Safe, regulators and industry experts to have the safety case accepted by the Health and Safety Executive. This milestone is a vital building block ensuring hazards to health, safety and the environment onboard the Well-Safe Guardian are fully understood, controlled and mitigated, and will facilitate the provision of a fully integrated, bespoke decommissioning asset.

Diving Operations will be conducted from the rig using the fully refurbished and upgraded D300 12-diver saturation diving system complete with a bespoke fully electric Submersible Decompression Chamber handling system and twin Self-Propelled Hyperbaric Lifeboats.

This is the first time in many years that a system of this kind will operate onboard a semi-submersible asset and we are delighted to implement this feature to provide a Tier 1 solution to decommissioning for our clients.

Well-Safe successfully completes its second international project of the year

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Following on from significant North Sea and International activity recently, Well-Safe Solutions can announce the successful completion of its second international project of the year with the team delivering detailed Peer Review and Benchmarking Services for a substantial field in Australia as part of the Operators assurance process.

Our client wanted to tap into our extensive North Sea experience, specialist regulatory knowledge, barrier remediation lessons and detailed operational performance benchmarks to help put in place the best plan of action for their project. The team recommended multiple optimisations to the Operator to ensure lessons were transferred from the North Sea and the best approach to decommissioning the field could be established, considering all strategies and outcomes.

For more information about how we can help you with any stage of a decommissioning project, from strategy and design to fully priced execution, check out our services page here.

Top Channel 4 series ‘SAS: Who Dares Wins’ films rig-based task for its latest series on Well-Safe Guardian

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Melding two distinctly different operating cultures on a remote operating environment for a SAS task is not without its challenges and is certainly not for the faint-hearted. That said, with attention to detail, perfect planning, and adherence to the highest standards, it was a task that showcased the Oil & Gas sector’s finest safety culture.

Aberdeen based decommissioning company, Well-Safe Solutions, took part in filming for the upcoming Channel 4 series last summer with strict covid procedures in place.

The company’s semi-submersible rig, the Well-Safe Guardian, currently located in the Port of Cromarty Firth, was the location for the task, with crew onboard ensuring a smooth delivery of operations and the safety of all involved.

Well-Safe, who are members of the industries Step Change in Safety, reached out to Executive Director, Steve Rae, to provide a third-party review of the risk assessments required to undertake these activities with a mindset of “no incidents, no harm to personnel, the environment, or the asset”.

Steve Rae said: “From the onset it was obvious that all the organisations involved had a genuine willingness to engage, collaborate and share their experience for the greater good.  The bringing together of like-minded individuals with the required knowledge, experience, and competence, combined with the common object of delivering the filming of these activities safely, set us up for success.”

With collaboration at the core of the project, Well-Safe carried out rigorous assessment exercises alongside Step Change in Safety, Minnow Films and Remote Trauma to ensure all major accident hazard risks were identified and mitigated. A large admiration was held for the production’s standard of qualifications in health and safety, offshore qualifications and risk assessment capability.

Alex Bohanna, Director of Operations at Remote Trauma, an independent health and safety consultancy agency working alongside Minnow Films, said: “Often working in remote and inhospitable environments for our shoots, it is our job to ensure we keep our people safe from harm. The Well-Safe personnel complemented our belief in safety and exceeded our expectations.”

“The planning process that Well-Safe instigated leading up to the shoot day followed clear and structured procedures. Time was taken to understand the risk involved in the task and apply barriers and mitigation to enable the activities to be carried out safely.”

Due to air in May, the show sees civilians put through military training exercises to test their physical and mental strength. Ex-special forces and show star Jason Fox said: “Gaining access to the Well-Safe Guardian and working closely with their team for our task enabled a rare filming opportunity like this to be possible.”

Not only was this exercise outwith the industry “norm”, but the organisation process through the digital work-from-home age saw ropes teams, ex-military advisors and high-level corporate bosses dialling in from their respective locations.

Benjamin Leigh, the Executive Producer for the series, said: “We understood through the planning process there were several hoops to jump through before we could gain access to a location such as the Well-Safe Guardian.”

“The communication and planning that Well-Safe instigated throughout the entire project displayed professionalism, diversity and courage, giving us the chance to film an epic task in an incredible location.”

“Even during the pandemic, all safety measures were made clear and communicated effectively, showcasing a fantastic one-team culture.”

With the task set-up from the top down using open communication between all parties and seniority levels involved, Well-Safe implemented their ONETEAM ethos working together to deliver exceptional results, showcasing the industries safety standard to a wider audience in a unique way.



Well-Safe’s D300 Diving System Arrives on Scottish Shores

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A fantastic start to the week yesterday seeing the long-awaited arrival of our D300 Diving System to Scottish shores.

The journey from Singapore has taken six weeks and thanks to the hard work and dedication of the team, they ensured the unit’s safe arrival this morning. This has been no mean feat, with operations being managed from the UK by Well-Safe Solutions along with the support of Orca Oceanic Systems Ltd. Throughout this project, the team have adjusted their working hours to match that of the team in Singapore and now with its arrival in the UK are excited to start their new journey.

The unit will undergo a full refurbishment, and major enhancements to the system, including the addition of a bespoke Bell handling system and twin Self Propelled Hyperbaric Lifeboats (SPHL’s). This will enable the execution of saturation diving operations from the Well-Safe Guardian asset when required by clients.



Well-Safe completes the Well-Safe Protector’s intake ahead of schedule, with zero injuries and no COVID cases.

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Since purchasing the Well-Safe Protector in September of 2020, our team and our partners have been working extremely hard to achieve the milestones set out as part of our ambitious rig readiness and onboarding programs.

Following an intense shipyard stay in Norway, under ever-tightening COVID protocols, and a December cross-North Sea rig move, the Well-Safe Protector arrived in Invergordon. It has since undergone a complete Special Periodic Survey, and all operational equipment has been fully re-activated & tested. Our Well-Safe crew are now focusing on integrating all our processes and systems by taking lessons from our Well-Safe Guardian experience in preparation for rig acceptance audits in the coming weeks.

One of our key milestones was achieving the HSE Safety Case, which was completed, submitted, and approved by the regulator ahead of the planned schedule and is now in place. Thanks to our team’s dedication onshore and offshore, along with the support of Marex, for delivering this result.

With all technical documentation in place and the completion of the drilling equipment, our 7-month project involving over 105,000 manhours of work, incident-free, is now complete.

This kind of performance was only delivered because the teams and subcontractors worked as #ONETEAM and worked through every challenge they faced. They should be very proud of this achievement.