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.  

Well-Safe Protector to decommission Neptune Energy wells in North Sea

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Well-Safe Solutions and Neptune Energy have agreed a contract for the Well-Safe Protector jack-up rig to plug and abandon (P&A) at least four subsea and 21 platform wells in the Dutch and UK sectors of the North Sea.

The one-year, firm contract also enables Neptune Energy to take up Well-Safe’s broad range of decommissioning engineering services if required, as well as the option of up to eight three-month extensions.

Mobilising during Q1 2023 in direct continuation from an earlier well decommissioning project for Ithaca Energy, the Well-Safe Protector is a harsh environment, independent leg cantilever design jack-up rig with an extensive operational history in the North Sea.

Duncan Morison, Rig Manager of the Well-Safe Protector, said: “With the addition of a further backlog of work to the Well-Safe Protector’s schedule, we are delighted at the level of interest the Well-Safe business model continues to generate in mature fields such as the North Sea.

“The Well-Safe Protector boasts a large volume of deck space for tubing, casing and conductor recovery, allowing effective batch operations and helping our clients to realise considerable operational savings.

“There are clear operational synergies between Well-Safe Solutions and Neptune Energy, and we look forward to collaborating with the Neptune team to effectively and efficiently plug and abandon these fields.”

Stuart Payne, NSTA Director of Supply Chain, Decommissioning and HR, added: “We have consistently pressed operators and the supply chain to work in a collaborative way to form well decommissioning campaigns, which are more cost-efficient and help save time and lower emissions.

“The Well-Safe Protector’s upcoming mobilisation for a multi-operator campaign is the latest encouraging sign that industry has got the message loud and clear. The cross-border element of this work also highlights the potential for exporting the considerable decommissioning expertise of the UK supply chain to other regions.”

The announcement follows on from news earlier in the summer that the Well-Safe Protector will plug and abandon six wells on the Anglia platform in the Southern North Sea for Ithaca Energy, mobilising in autumn 2022.

Well-Safe Guardian to be upgraded with market-leading modular intervention system

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Well decommissioning experts Well-Safe Solutions have partnered with Trendsetter Engineering, Inc. to fit the Well-Safe Guardian semi-submersible rig with the Trident Intervention System.

Featuring a compact yet powerful design, the Trident is an effective single-system solution which can be configured for hydraulic intervention, riserless light well intervention and open water intervention riser operations.

The partnership provides Well-Safe Solutions with exclusive access to the system in the UK for well plug and abandonment (P&A).

Robin Kimber, Well-Safe Guardian Rig Manager, said: “Well-Safe Solutions prides itself on its bespoke P&A offering, offering our clients the flexibility and technical superiority required to carry out well decommissioning operations safely and efficiently.

“Trendsetter’s clear expertise in this field, as well as the versatility of the Trident system, makes it an ideal fit for the Well-Safe Guardian – the first asset we have converted to exclusively carry out well decommissioning operations.”

The main application for the Trident system will be in open water intervention riser mode, providing secure mechanical access for wireline or coiled tubing operations.

Steven Chalmers, Wells Subsea Team Lead at Well-Safe Solutions, added: “The Trident subsea intervention system uses advanced technologies for well P&A operations, aligning with our client promise to provide safe, smart and efficient operations.

“The extensive technical knowledge and experience of the Trendsetter team, coupled with Trident’s technical prowess, will strengthen the Well-Safe Guardian’s claim to be the ‘one mobile offshore drilling unit’ solution.”

The investment into the Trident system comes after a busy summer for Aberdeen-based Well-Safe Solutions, which marked its fifth anniversary in business in August 2022, and signed a deal to P&A 14 wells on the UK continental shelf from March 2023.

Video: Well-Safe Solutions 5th Anniversary

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Five years of Well-Safe Solutions

On 1 August 2017, Well-Safe Solutions officially started trading from a small office in the West End of Aberdeen with five members of staff. Five years later, we have matured into a fast-growing business, employing over 250 people across three bespoke decommissioning assets and a modern office in Cove.

As we mark our fifth anniversary, Well-Safe is continuing to set new standards in efficient and safe well decommissioning in the North Sea, while establishing solid foundations for expansion into international markets.

In the first two years of business, Well-Safe Solutions successfully navigated the challenges which face any fledgling business – building our team with experienced staff, developing our bespoke business systems and processes and growing our future workforce with graduate positions in several departments.

In 2019, we kicked off the first of our fleet acquisitions with the Well-Safe Guardian – our first semi-submersible decommissioning unit – and began our first managed contract decommissioning the Fulmar AD wells for Repsol Sinopec.  We followed this up later that year by scoring our first large-scale contract to decommission wells for DNO North Sea on the Schooner and Ketch fields. This was also the year we moved into our current premises at the Gateway Business Park in Cove, Aberdeen.

While the challenges of the global COVID-19 pandemic were unprecedented, our business emerged in a stronger position as a result of the protective measures we took to strengthen and develop during this time. In September 2020 we welcomed the Well-Safe Protector jack-up rig to the business, which is presently preparing to mobilise for Ithaca Energy in late summer 2022.

The continued focus and effort of our offshore and onshore-based teams meant that we were able to really hit the ground running in 2021, with the Well-Safe Guardian securing work for Repsol Sinopec Resources and CNR International UK Ltd. As a result of these wins, our teams have increased both in size and scope, with over 130 new personnel joining us across the business in the past year.

Although there have been several milestones achieved during the first five years of the business, one of the most memorable was the mobilisation of the Well-Safe Guardian for Repsol Sinopec and CNR International in January 2022 realising our ambition to deliver multi-operator, multi-well campaigns.

A recent highlight for Well-Safe was the purchase of the Well-Safe Defender semi-submersible in June of this year, giving our clients greater flexibility for their well decommissioning requirements.  A little over a month after taking ownership of the rig, we have secured a significant backlog of work for the Well-Safe Defender – demonstrating clear demand for our solutions in our fifth anniversary year.

While our acquisitions and contract wins help to demonstrate our success as a business, we are immensely proud of our commitment to operational safety both on and offshore, as nothing is more important than returning safely to our families. Across all of our assets, we continue to pursue our end goal of zero incidents, promoting a positive safety culture in which everyone takes responsibility for their own safety as well as that of their colleagues.

A clear goal of ours from the outset was to use the decommissioning opportunities in the North Sea to demonstrate the future exportability of our business model. Looking to the future, we are actively pursuing exciting new opportunities throughout Europe and the Asia-Pacific regions in order to secure years of work to come.

As we continue to grow, the ethical impact and sustainability of Well-Safe will come to the fore as we successfully navigate the energy transition, reduce our environmental impact and manage our climate and business risks.

While a lot has changed over the last five years, Well-Safe’s guiding vision remains unchanged and on track. We have never forgotten our steadfast commitment to the mission and promises which set our offering apart from the rest: our desire to be the industry’s trusted well decommissioning service partner of choice.

The Well-Safe Solutions senior management team

Well-Safe Solutions inks new UKCS decommissioning deal

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Well decommissioning specialists Well-Safe Solutions have signed an agreement to plug and abandon (P&A) 14 wells on the UK continental shelf.

The deal is the first scope agreed for the Well-Safe Defender semi-submersible rig, which Well-Safe Solutions purchased in June 2022.

The project, for an undisclosed value, will see the Well-Safe Defender mobilising in March 2023 for approximately 250 days of work.

Neil Ferguson, Operations Director at Well-Safe Solutions, said: “This is a very exciting time for our teams, with a little over a month between Well-Safe taking ownership of the Well-Safe Defender and the signing of this contract with our latest client.”

The Well-Safe Defender is currently undergoing a host of efficiency enhancements as part of its integration into the business as well as the completion of its recertification ahead of mobilisation in March 2023.

Gavin Robinson, Commercial Manager at Well-Safe Solutions, added: “We are delighted to assist our client, a leading European operator, with meeting their decommissioning obligations on these historic fields.

“Like the Well-Safe Guardian and Well-Safe Protector, the Well-Safe Defender is a dedicated decommissioning asset converted from a drilling rig. Clients benefit from a greatly reduced carbon footprint and quicker mobilisation times as a result, as no virgin steel is required for a new-build rig.

“In addition to the clear economic benefits of this approach, we expect this work to generate approximately 60 new positions offshore, with several supporting roles also required onshore. This will take the total estimated headcount in Well-Safe to 330 people in early 2023.”

This contract announcement is the latest in a summer of growth for Well-Safe Solutions, who previously announced a well decommissioning contract with Ithaca Energy as well as a capital funding boost of £50m+ by new and existing investors.