The decommissioning expertise that John Lawrie Group has amassed over the past 25 years has been shared with a group of students studying the subject in Aberdeen.

Environmental director Ray Grant recently visited the University of Aberdeen to deliver a guest lecture on John Lawrie Group’s experience and capabilities in the oil and gas decom sector to MSc Decommissioning students.  The metal recycling, decommissioning and steel tubulars firm has handled numerous piece small items brought back ashore during repair and modification projects and large piece items decommissioned as part of field cessation programmes.

Along with giving the students an overview of John Lawrie Group, which operates four Scottish metal recycling facilities and pipe storage yards in Scotland and the USA, Ray’s presentation provided detailed insight into the handling and processing operations undertaken by the firm during decommissioning.  The presentation also highlighted the environmental and safety standards that need to be adhered to, and gave examples of best practice and how items are reused and recycled.

Students heard that as an environmentally focussed firm with sustainability at its core, John Lawrie Group aims to find a secondary use for the redundant items it receives during the decommissioning process.  It also aims to maximise recycling in order to minimise the amount of waste being sent for disposal.

An example of this includes the reuse of steel tubular pipes which were used offshore for drilling operations and that have been recovered from the seabed, cleaned and are now reused as steel piling pipe in the construction sector.  The firm has also repurposed anchor chain to create weights either to keep fish farm cages in place or create bundles to help hold above ground pipelines in place.  However, it was noted that larger complex projects can have limited reuse opportunities.

Ray explained: “John Lawrie Group achieves an average reuse and recycling rate of between 95% and 100% on decommissioning projects.  Due to their construction some structures do not lend themselves to reuse, but their materials can be recycled.  For example, waste metal is smelted down and then used to create new steel products.  Utilising this secondary raw material has environmental benefits as less ore is being mined to create new steel products, which preserves the natural environment.

“That concept of reusing materials or extending their useful life is a cornerstone of the circular economy.  It’s a model that John Lawrie Group is a strong proponent of and something we’ve been doing for decades.”

The lecture also highlighted the extent of the decommissioning services provided by John Lawrie Group, which alongside recycling includes quayside collection, transportation and dismantling.  These services are illustrated in a video showing the firm dismantling a 500-tonne offshore module at a Dundee quayside and transporting it from site.

To round off the session Ray noted John Lawrie Group’s involvement in Aberdeen-based NORM Solutions, which it operates on a joint venture basis.  This is a technically advanced decontamination facility that handles oil and gas equipment and infrastructure that is contaminated with naturally occurring radioactive material and mercury.

Ray was invited to speak to the MSc Decommissioning students after hosting a group of international visitors last autumn who were on a fact-finding trip organised by the University of Aberdeen.  The nine-strong delegation from Thailand visited John Lawrie Group’s metal recycling facility in East Tullos, Aberdeen to learn about the firm’s role in the decom sector.

The MSc Decommissioning course is a 12-month programme that aims to provide students with a broad range of knowledge and expertise in the physical process of taking offshore platforms out of service.  The course syllabus has been designed in conjunction with major operators, supply chain companies and regulatory bodies.  It covers the areas of engineering, project management, business, law, health and safety, and environmental studies.

Ray added: “The UK oil and gas decom sector has a long history and it will have an extensive future, particularly if investment and innovation helps to extend exploration in the North Sea.  It was a privilege to be invited to speak to the students at the University of Aberdeen and share the knowledge and experience John Lawrie Group has gained in the oil and gas decommissioning sector over the past two decades.  These students will become our decom experts of tomorrow, playing a crucial role in shaping how oil and gas assets and infrastructure around the world are dismantled, reused and recycled in the decades to come.”

For further information on John Lawrie Group’s decommissioning services visit the decom section of the website.