North Sea nations and oil companies face costs of more than $100 billion to shut down old wells in the depleted region. Researchers in Norway believe they can cut that figure dramatically.
A new technology center in Trondheim hopes to halve the costs of plugging and abandoning wells — a procedure known as P&A that could reach an estimated $85 billion in Norway alone by 2050. Curbing that outlay would be a boon to operators and prospective investors in the aging region, where thousands of shafts must be closed up in the coming decades as oil and gas flows dwindle.
High abandonment costs can put buyers off purchasing older fields, as the expense can outweigh profits to be made now. Oil’s slump has exacerbated this fear, forcing some North Sea producers to close fields earlier than planned. A drop in the cost of dismantling wells could reduce risk, buying them more time.
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