Well-Safe Solutions introduces Well-Safe Resources and consultancy manager

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International well plug and abandonment specialists Well-Safe Solutions have announced Well-Safe Resources; a new business function focusing on deploying market-leading well engineering and project management talent worldwide.

The newly-formed Well-Safe Resources service offering will be headed by Steve Combe; an experienced team leader and recruitment advisor with over 15 years of experience in North Sea, Falklands and West African operations.

Well-Safe Solutions will assist clients with outsourced engineering scopes, embedding specialist Well-Safe Solutions personnel with operator teams and providing bespoke plug and abandonment decommissioning assets where appropriate.

Commenting on his new role, Steve said: “I’m delighted to be joining the team at such an important period of development for the business.

“Well plug and abandonment activity is a specialist field with unique challenges, requiring the right mix of technical expertise, talent and ingenuity.

“A company’s greatest asset is its people and I’m confident that we can build upon the solid foundations established to date to continue to recruit, retain and deploy some of the industry’s brightest minds on rewarding well plug and decommissioning projects worldwide.

Chris Hay, Director of Strategy and Commercial at Well-Safe Solutions, added: “Steve’s appointment is a key aspect of our vision to be the industry’s trusted well decommissioning service partner of choice.

“Well-Safe Resources will bolster our existing ability to provide clients with flexible, collaborative project management and engineering support as required.

“Our expansion into this space has followed client feedback and market research, which demonstrates clear demand for a Tier 1 well decommissioning provider to step into this sector.”

This announcement comes during a sustained period of growth for the UK-based well decommissioning specialist as it eyes international growth in several key markets worldwide.

Earlier in the summer, Well-Safe Solutions announced the creation of Well-Safe Solutions Pty Ltd, with industry stalwart Massimo Delia heading operations from its Perth, Western Australia office.

Well-Safe Solutions announces Australasia expansion with new General Manager

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International well plug and abandonment specialists Well-Safe Solutions are expanding into the Asia Pacific region with the appointment of Massimo Delia as General Manager of newly-created Well-Safe Solutions Pty Ltd.

Massimo, based in Perth, Western Australia, joins Well-Safe Solutions with over 20 years of subsea commercial and engineering experience in a variety of strategic and managerial positions.

In their initial assessment of Australia’s offshore oil and gas decommissioning liability, industry body Centre of Decommissioning Australia (CODA) has identified more than USD$50bn of work ahead – with well plug and abandonment and pipeline removal the majority of estimated spend.1

This includes the abandonment of over 1,000 offshore wells, in addition to a significant onshore decommissioning market.

Commenting on his appointment, Massimo said: “I have watched Well-Safe Solutions go from strength to strength in Europe, with the growth of its Subsurface and Well Engineering team capabilities and the mobilisation of all three well plug and abandonment assets for the first time in the company’s history just some of the recent highlights.

“I am eager to play my part in the next chapter of the company’s growth and look forward to collaborating with my colleagues, clients and stakeholders in the UK and Australia.”

Phil Milton, Chief Executive Officer of Well-Safe Solutions, added: “Working in tandem with the wider Well-Safe Solutions team, Massimo will be instrumental in leveraging our capabilities and track record to partner with operators and stakeholders throughout Australia and Asia.

“We’re looking forward to undertaking offshore and onshore well decommissioning projects with the input of the highly experienced engineering sector and supply chain already present within the region.

“Massimo’s appointment is a reflection of Well-Safe Solutions’ ambitious growth strategy. Well-Safe Solutions is the first Tier 1 company to offer the complete well plug and abandonment capability under one roof – from front-end engineering and design, through to project delivery, specialist engineering support and close out.”

With over 400 wells worldwide featuring Well-Safe Solutions’ engineering expertise and 70+ wells either decommissioned or to be decommissioned by the business in the North Sea alone, the company is well-placed to deliver on its mission to provide safe, efficient and collaborative well plug and abandonment operations.

Earlier in 2023, Well-Safe Solutions announced that all three well P&A assets – the Well-Safe Guardian, Well-Safe Protector and Well-Safe Defender – were all committed to firm contracts before options until at least mid-2024.

The portfolio includes the Well-Safe Guardian; the market’s first single-asset well decommissioning solution, with saturation diving and lightweight well intervention system capabilities installed this summer.

1 Source: Centre of Decommissioning Australia (CODA), A Baseline Assessment of Australia’s Offshore Oil and Gas Decommissioning Liability, p.3

Well-Safe Solutions debuts saturation dive spread capability on Well-Safe Guardian

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Well-Safe Solutions has unveiled a D300 saturation diving system aboard the Well-Safe Guardian, making the semi-submersible rig the only one of its type in the North Sea with this capability.

The custom-built dive spread, with capacity for up to 15 persons, enables safe access to legacy subsea wellhead and Christmas tree systems from the 1970s onwards which were originally designed for diver intervention.

Phil Milton, Chief Executive Officer at Well-Safe Solutions, said: “With 48% of overall decommissioning expenditure in 2022 focused on well abandonment alone, Well-Safe Solutions has identified a clear market in mature basins such as the UK Continental Shelf for this technology.1

“The dive spread system installed on the Well-Safe Guardian is a cost-effective, flexible alternative to the industry standard, which typically sees a light well intervention vessel (LWIV) used to plug and lubricate the well before completing decommissioning operations with a standard semi-submersible mobile offshore drilling unit (MODU).

“Our ‘single asset solution’ offers an alternative to the conventional approach and does not require multiple vessel mobilisations and demobilisations. This results in lower operating costs, minimises the risk of weather-related disruption and boosts overall project efficiency.

“Recent engineering and comparative analysis studies have demonstrated the value this solution can bring to the wider decommissioning industry as it seeks to streamline processes and costs alike as part of the transition to net zero carbon emissions.

“Our data shows that the use of the Well-Safe Guardian to plug and abandon (P&A) five wells over three fields in the North Sea generates a 15% total cost reduction and is 44 days quicker than using a LWIV and MODU pairing.”

“We are delighted to be able to bring this solution to market as part of our vision to become the industry’s well decommissioning partner of choice.”

The manufacture, transport and fitment of the dive spread was carried out at Burntisland, Rosyth and Methil ports on the east coast of Scotland.

Equipped with an environmentally-friendly electric bell-handling system and two hyperbaric lifeboats, the system is designed to enable diving operations to be carried out in support of well decommissioning.

Typical operations supported include cleaning, deconstruction, barrier testing, manual tree cap removal, reconfiguration of hydraulic controls and flowline removal.

Press release continues below

Robin Kimber, Rig Manager of the Well-Safe Guardian, added: “The Well-Safe Guardian is the market-leading single-asset well decommissioning solution in the North Sea, with lightweight well intervention, saturation diving and full drilling rig capabilities.

“The dive spread system is designed to work in tandem with the Trendsetter Trident well intervention system previously announced by Well-Safe Solutions in 2022.

“The potential for simultaneous operations with both technologies onboard will unlock even higher levels of operational efficiency, further minimising our environmental footprint and reducing operational risk on behalf of our clients.

“We would like to thank all of our partners involved to date in the safe and successful design, fabrication and loadout of the saturation diving system.”

Even greater efficiencies can also be realised as part of Well-Safe Solutions’ P&A Club; a campaign-based approach to well abandonment which batches and tackles wells in series without intervening returns to port.

Following further systems integration and testing, the Well-Safe Guardian will mobilise early summer 2023, returning to the Buchan field operated by Repsol Sinopec Resources UK to plug and abandon nine wells using the saturation dive system, the Trident well intervention system and the blow out preventer, realising the full potential of this single asset solution.

UK-based RockSalt Subsea will support Well-Safe Solutions with diving services and personnel during all saturated diving operations from the Well-Safe Guardian.

David Whitehouse, Chief Executive Officer of Offshore Energies UK, added: “The UK offshore energy industry has a long history of developing world-class solutions to the challenges it has faced and continues to face.

“This latest development and adoption of technology on the Well-Safe Guardian from Well-Safe Solutions shows an absolute commitment to drive forward innovation to improve efficiency for the plug and abandonment of wells.  These efficiency improvements will also have a positive impact on safety and environmental performance.

“After 50 years of operating in the North Sea, this level of dedication to UK innovation is important as we continue to meet the UK’s energy needs using home grown jobs, skills and technology.”

The addition of the saturation dive spread is the latest development for Well-Safe Solutions, following news of a recent contract win with bp to decommission two wells in the Kate field of the North Sea in March 2023, as well as the mobilisation of the Well-Safe Defender in April 2023.

Gallery: Well-Safe Defender mobilisation

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Less than one year on from being accepted into the Well-Safe Solutions fleet, the Well-Safe Defender has put to sea on behalf of Spirit Energy.

On Tuesday 11 April 2023, the Well-Safe Defender mobilised from the Cromarty Firth – meaning that for the first time in our history, Well-Safe Solutions has successfully mobilised 100% of our assets.

We’d like to thank everyone involved in the process of converting the semi-submersible rig into a bespoke well plug and abandonment asset.

The rig’s first scope will be to decommission 14 wells in the Chestnut and Trees fields of the North Sea.

Well-Safe Solutions supporting decommissioning of bp Kate wells in North Sea

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International well decommissioning specialists Well-Safe Solutions is supporting the decommissioning of two suspended wells in bp’s Kate field in the North Sea, 220km from Aberdeen.

The programme of work, expected to be executed from the Noble Innovator jack up vessel during Q2 2023, will see Well-Safe Solutions carry out well engineering support services using its bespoke Well Decommissioning Delivery Process (WDDP).

Ruth Thomas, Subsurface Team Lead at Well-Safe Solutions, said: “We are very much looking forward to supporting bp with this work scope, which involves detailed subsurface and well engineering basis of design studies ideally suited to our specialist capabilities.

“Well-Safe Solutions will be instrumental in establishing and evaluating key subsurface isolation criteria including identifying and quantifying zones of flow potential and risks associated with redevelopment.

“In addition, we will also examine existing barriers and optimise the barrier strategy, taking into account the attributes of the region to safely and efficiently deliver this project.”

Well-Safe Solutions personnel will work alongside bp staff throughout, realising the decommissioning company’s promise to provide safe, smart, and efficient well decommissioning through collaboration.

James Richards, Well Abandonment Director at Well-Safe Solutions, added: “The Well Decommissioning Delivery Process (WDDP) guides operators through the well plug and abandonment process efficiently and effectively, without the extended commitments and high costs historically associated with engineering resources over long periods.

“The WDDP is built to realise the benefits of capturing, retaining and sharing of knowledge between our personnel, clients and stakeholders.”

This announcement is the latest in a busy year for Well-Safe Solutions, as it prepares for the mobilisation of the Well-Safe Defender and the fitting out of the Well-Safe Guardian with a bespoke dive spread system by summer 2023.

Well-Safe Solutions commits to Carbon Management Reduction Plan with PD&MS

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Pictured L-R: Thomas Barter, Head of Business Development – Renewables and Decarbonisation at PD&MS pictured with Christopher Hay, Director of Strategy & Business Development at Well-Safe Solutions.

Well decommissioning specialists Well-Safe Solutions have partnered with PD&MS Group to implement a Carbon Management Reduction Plan (CMRP) as part of the company’s commitment to sustainable working practices.

The agreement will see international engineering solutions provider PD&MS Group assist Well-Safe Solutions in establishing an emissions baseline, before identifying and assessing opportunities to reduce its overall carbon footprint and optimise energy efficiency across the business.

PD&MS Group, who are also carrying out a CMRP for a range of energy majors, will appraise and produce recommendations for future improvements at all Well-Safe Solutions sites.

This will include the Well-Safe Guardian, Well-Safe Protector and Well-Safe Defender plug and abandonment assets and its Cove, Aberdeen global headquarters.

Andrew Murray, Sustainability Specialist at Well-Safe Solutions, said: “The CMRP is an exciting development for Well-Safe Solutions and is just one aspect of Well-Safe Solutions’ wider environmental, social and governance (ESG) strategy implementation.

“This plan is part of a larger ‘road map’ enabling enhanced delivery of P&A projects as part of Well-Safe Solutions’ promise to deliver safe, smart and efficient ways of working for its clients.”

The CMRP is expected to take approximately three months to develop and complete and will identify opportunities to improve energy efficiency throughout the business.

It will examine a variety of elements including power, battery and heating systems, pumps, motors and drives, insulation, lighting and cooling.

The opportunities to reduce and decarbonise transport emissions when moving, crewing and supplying each vessel will also be explored as part of Well-Safe Solutions’ drive to minimise its impact on the environment.

Simon Rio, CEO of PD&MS Group,  said: “We are thrilled to be partnering with Well-Safe Solutions to support them with the decarbonisation of their asset, helping to reduce their carbon footprint and optimise efficiency across their operations.

“We have over 14 years’ experience in delivering carbon reduction solutions across multiple sectors and during this time, we have supported more than 500 businesses – resulting in an estimated cumulative carbon reduction impact of 1 million tonnes of CO2.

“We look forward to working with Well-Safe Solutions on this exciting CMRP scope and to growing a long-lasting relationship between our organisations”

Chris Hay, Director of Business Development and Strategy at Well-Safe Solutions, added: “Well-Safe Solutions is committed to a root-and-branch review of its working practices and assets in order to improve the sustainability of our business and better assist our clients through the energy transition.

“This productive working partnership with the experts at PD&MS will help us unlock even greater efficiencies as the business continues to grow internationally.”

Well-Safe Solutions and Apache Corporation sign P&A Club decommissioning deal

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Well-Safe Solutions and Apache Corporation have signed a multi-year framework agreement to decommission wells in the North Sea, as part of the decommissioning specialist’s Plug and Abandonment (P&A) Club offering.

The deal provides the US-based energy producer with access to specialist decommissioning assets the Well-Safe Defender and Well-Safe Guardian to P&A its well stock.

Chris Hay, Director of Strategy and Business Development at Well-Safe Solutions, said: “We are ready to assist Apache with their well decommissioning requirements, affording them the flexibility to book their wells into our campaigns when required.

“Our multi-well, multi-operator P&A Clubs give our clients cost certainty and leverage the cumulative experience gained by our specialist decommissioning teams on both assets across hundreds of wells to date.

“This ‘learning curve’ of knowledge, built up through our exclusive focus on well decommissioning operations, enables clients to reap the benefits of scope aggregation when adding a number of wells – or even a single well – to a campaign.

“By building a strong track record solely in well plug and abandonment operations, instead of continually switching between drilling and decommissioning, the cumulative experience gained ensures the delivery of safe and efficient operations.”

According to the North Sea Transition Authority, it takes 31 days on average to decommission a subsea well from a North Sea rig.1

As an example, Well-Safe Solutions’ practical experience on four North Sea wells during summer 2022 is comfortably within the top P25 performance quartile of this average, with the shortest well decommissioning window 7.9 days and the longest just 15.5 days.2

Separate to the frame agreement signed by both companies, Apache has secured a slot for Well-Safe Solutions to plug and abandon subsea wells in the UK Continental Shelf.

This work will begin in 2024 as part of a continuous campaign, enabling Well-Safe Solutions to maximise schedule flexibility and improve efficiencies of scale for the member companies within the campaign.

The P&A Club’s sharp focus on operational and cost efficiency aligns with industry regulator the North Sea Transition Authority’s target to reduce the cost of decommissioning upstream oil and gas infrastructure in the UKCS by 35% by the end of 2022.

Pauline Innes, North Sea Transition Authority Director of Decommissioning, said: “There are hundreds of suspended wells across the UKCS that are ready to be decommissioned and impressive cost savings can be achieved from taking a campaign approach to the work.

“We encourage every operator to look at available opportunities to decommission and adopt the most efficient, value-for-money option.”

This latest development follows a year of sustained growth for Aberdeen-based Well-Safe Solutions.

In December 2022, the Well-Safe Protector mobilised for Ithaca Energy following an extensive well P&A refit. Once complete, it will move directly to its next scope for Neptune Energy later in 2023 after securing this contract in September 2022.

  1. Source: UKCS Decommissioning Benchmarking Report 2021, North Sea Transition Authority, p.12 
  2. Source: Well-Safe Solutions’ well intelligence commissioned in-house, compared directly to UKCS Decommissioning Benchmarking Report 2021 figures.

Well-managed decommissioning

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Effective well decommissioning is a cornerstone of responsible well management, writes Well-Safe Solutions’ Chief Operating Officer, Matt Jenkins. 

Did you know that well decommissioning accounts for 48% of the £1.97bn earmarked for total decommissioning spend in the North Sea in the last year? [OEUK Decommissioning Insight 2022, p.6.]

While the decommissioning industry builds significant scale here in the North Sea, the eyes of the world are now upon the UKCS as one of the world’s most mature offshore basins.

This gives the UK a market-leading opportunity to export its knowledge and skills beyond its shores.

A specialism in well decommissioning is now an essential requirement in responsibly liquidating these liabilities. Well-Safe Solutions believes that to deliver the regulator’s strategy, a combination of specialist decommissioning focussed people, processes and experience is required, rather than using the same delivery models as exploration and development.


Decommissioning is not simply the reverse of the exploration and production process – and operators and regulators are looking to organisations with the right blend of personnel to define and sustain best practice.

Well-Safe Solutions, which marked its fifth anniversary in 2022, has curated a market-leading team of multi-discipline well decommissioning specialists – equipped to meet the challenges of decommissioning while nurturing new talent for the next generation of well plug and abandonment specialists.

Specifically, the latest release of the OEUK Well Decommissioning Guidelines were released in November 2022, with Well-Safe Solutions expanding its subsurface capability by appointing of Ruth Thomas as Subsurface Team Lead at this time. Ruth is supported by specialists with backgrounds from across the well decommissioning ecosystem, including fishing (Senior Well Abandonment Engineer Jamie Stewart) and complex/aged wellhead and tree interfaces (Project Manager David Roberts).

We also offer Foundation, Modern and Graduate Apprenticeships, in cooperation with Developing the Young Workforce. These positions – in both on and offshore roles – bridge the gap between industry and education to prepare young people for the world of work.

Well-Safe Solutions is the only well decommissioning company offering cross-discipline experience in both well abandonment and rig ownership, with several of our graduate well engineers enjoying rotations as an operations engineer working for our rig managers. The company covers all aspects of barrier philosophy, well design, project planning and execution, as well as project delivery – all under one roof.


A skilled and motivated team needs a robust framework to enable peak performance. Well-Safe Solutions’ Well Decommissioning Delivery Process (WDDP) takes clients through the plug and abandonment process efficiently and effectively, with gated stages from handover, front end engineering and design (FEED) to select, define, execute and close out. This process is unique to Well-Safe Solutions and scalable to each client’s requirements.

The WDDP has provided FEED engineering studies right though to fully-integrated projects utilising Well-Safe Solutions-owned assets or third-party rigs. As part of our commitment to improving the capture, retention and sharing of knowledge, lessons learned are continually reintroduced, ensuring incremental learnings and savings are applied to subsequent scopes.

Competence is the combination of skills, knowledge and experience in an organisation – and having a robust system to measure this is key to effective project delivery.  We’re the world’s first well decommissioning company to achieve OPITO Competence Management System (CMS) approval. Recognised as the industry’s gold standard, the CMS approval process rigorously evaluates the methods by which competence is implemented and managed at Well-Safe Solutions.

Our focus on operational efficiency also extends to our software. Using Apriside’s Oilfield OS Operations Management System, this cloud-based platform enables our multi-functional teams to collaborate to streamline the planning, execution and analysis of well decommissioning projects.

Such has been the reception to our WDDP and OilfieldOS in our five years of business that we are now in the process of transferring a clients’ wells into Well-Safe Solutions operatorship.

Matt Jenkins, Chief Operating Officer, Well-Safe Solutions


Collectively, over 400 wells have progressed through at least one stage of the WDDP to date, while Well-Safe Solutions has achieved over two million working hours without a recordable incident to date.

Well-Safe Solutions has plugged and abandoned 23 wells in the last year alone – a special year bookended by the mobilisation of the Well-Safe Guardian in January 2022 and the Well-Safe Protector in December 2022.

For example, the Well-Safe Guardian semi-submersible rig mobilised to decommission North Sea wells for Repsol Sinopec Resources UK (RSRUK) and CNR International UK (CNR). According to the North Sea Transition Authority, it takes 31 days on average to decommission a subsea well from a North Sea rig. [UKCS Decommissioning Benchmarking Report 2021, North Sea Transition Authority, p.12]

Well-Safe Solutions’ practical experience on four field wells is comfortably within the top P25 performance quartile of this average, with the shortest well decommissioning window 7.9 days and the longest just 15.5 days. [Source: Well-Safe Solutions’ well intelligence commissioned in-house, compared directly to UKCS Decommissioning Benchmarking Report 2021 figures.] 


The Well-Safe Protector mobilised to its first projects for Ithaca Energy and Neptune Energy in December 2022, while the Well-Safe Defender undergoes upgrades ahead of mobilisation later in 2023.  

Effective well decommissioning is of crucial importance to effective well management and, far from being the end of the road in the energy sector, is part of a new dawn in effective well management in the UKCS and beyond.

This article originally appeared in the January 2023 issue of OGV Energy – Well Abandonment, from OGV Energy.

Gallery: Well-Safe Protector mobilisation

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On Sunday 11 December 2022, the Well-Safe Protector mobilised into the chilly open waters of the North Sea for the first time in two years.

This safe, successful mobilisation is the culmination of years of meticulous planning and upgrading to meet the challenges of well plug and abandonment.

Well-Safe Solutions thanks everyone involved in realising this milestone, as we continue to deliver on our vision of becoming the industry’s trusted well decommissioning service partner of choice.

The Well-Safe Protector headed to the Southern North Sea to begin well decommissioning operations for Ithaca Energy and Neptune Energy in 2023.

Well-Safe Solutions appoints Subsurface Team Lead to drive service growth

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Well decommissioning services company Well-Safe Solutions have appointed Ruth Thomas as Subsurface Team Lead, with the company broadening its range of subsurface well plug and abandonment (P&A) design services in response to increased client demand. 

Ruth has over two decades of experience in providing subsurface support to assets in the UK sector of the North Sea for energy majors including Repsol Sinopec Resources UK, Apache Corporation and CNR International Ltd. 

She joins Well-Safe Solutions from Repsol Sinopec Resources UK, where she held numerous roles including Senior Geophysicist for 15 years. 

Ruth said: “As the demand for Well-Safe Solutions’ assets and engineering expertise grows, I am delighted to have been given this opportunity to advance Well-Safe’s subsurface capability during its next phase of growth.” 

“Together with Well-Safe’s operational experts both on and offshore, I am excited to demonstrate how having the right subsurface isolation strategy is an important part in delivering a safe, smart and efficient well plug and abandonment strategy for our clients.” 

Ruth will lead her team to ensure regulatory compliance and cost efficiencies are realised for a roster of clients during this crucial phase of the well plug and abandonment process. 

James Richards, Well Abandonment Director at Well-Safe Solutions, said: “Attracting someone of Ruth’s calibre into the business is a clear statement of intent from Well-Safe Solutions as we progress into our next chapter of growth. 

“Ruth’s geophysics knowledge and expertise for decommissioning workscopes, including Subsurface Basis of Design (SSBoD) for well decommissioning projects, will better equip the business to add further value for our clients.” 

The expansion of the subsurface capability at Well-Safe Solutions follows on from a high number of enquiries from energy sector operators looking to Well-Safe Solutions for market-leading expertise on subsurface isolation strategy, including assessment of shale barriers and an as low as reasonably practicable (ALARP) approach to well decommissioning design. 

Ruth holds an MSc with Distinction in Decommissioning and an MSc in Geology, both from the University of Aberdeen, and a first-class BEng in Industrial Geology from the Camborne School of Mines.