Why are we decommissioning?
Gas production from the wells was shut in on the 5th of July 2020 when all the gas reserves in the various fields were depleted. All of the gas production wells have now been permanently plugged with cement and the associated facilities (platforms, pipelines, cables, subsea structures and onshore terminal) are also being decommissioned.
What is the Decommissioning Project?
Kinsale Energy has developed a comprehensive plan to decommission all of the Kinsale Area gas fields. The offshore decommissioning activities are expected to be completed by 2023, having commenced in
July 2020. The onshore works at Inch Terminal works will occur over a much shorter period (less than 6 months) during 2022.
You can read more about our preparations and planning for the Decommissioning project HERE
Decommissioning Consent Application
In June 2018, Kinsale Energy applied to the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment for approval of Decommissioning Plans for some of the facilities in the Kinsale Head and Seven Heads gas fields, including:
- Platform and Subsea Well Abandonments
- Platform Topside
- Subsea Infrastructure
The following Consent Application documents are available on the website:
Decommissioning Plan – Kinsale Head
Decommissioning Plan – Seven Heads
Environmental Impact Assessment Report:
Vol 1 Non-Technical Summary
Vol 2 Main Report Sections 1-9
Vol 3 Main Report Appendices Parts 1 & 2
Appropriate Assessment Screening Report
A Request for Further Information in relation to the Consent Application was received from the Department of Communications, Climate Action and Environment (DCCAE) on 24th Sept. 2018. Kinsale Energy have prepared a comprehensive response to this request and this was submitted to DCCAE on 14th November 2018. The response documents can be viewed below:
The Department of Communications, Climate Action & Environment (DCCAE) issued approval of Consent Application No 1 to Kinsale Energy on 26th April 2019 and the approval letters can be viewed below. The approvals for both the Kinsale Head Gas field and the Seven Heads Gas field contain a number of conditions in relation to reporting, environmental management and so on and these conditions will be incorporated in the planning for the decommissioning project.
In August 2019, KEL submitted a further application to DCCAE in respect of removal of the Kinsale Alpha and Kinsale Bravo platform sub-structures or jackets (Consent Application No 2) - this application covers complete removal of the jackets down to seabed level. The application is accompanied by supplementary documents (addenda) to the Environmental Impact Assessment Report (EIAR) and Appropriate Assessment Screening Report to highlight any updates to the previously approved documents.
The additional documents can be viewed below:
The Department of Communications, Climate Action & Environment (DCCAE) issued approval of Consent Application No 2 to Kinsale Energy on 26th Feb. 2020. This approval also contains a number of conditions in relation to reporting, environmental management and so on and as for the conditions associated with Consent Application No1 these conditions will be incorporated in the planning for the decommissioning project.
The approval letters from DCCAE can be viewed below:
October 2021 Submissions in relation to Subsea Pipelines & Umbilicals:
In October 2021, further Consent Applications were submitted to the Department of the Environment, Climate & Communications (DECC) and to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in respect of the subsea pipelines and umbilicals for the Kinsale Head, Ballycotton and Seven Heads gas fields. These applications are for the retention of the existing pipelines and umbilicals in-situ on the seabed and for the installation of protective materials (rock berms) to guard against any snagging hazards which might pose a risk to fishing activity.
The applications are accompanied by supplementary documents (addenda) to the Environmental Impact Assessment Report (EIAR) and Appropriate Assessment Screening Report to highlight any updates to the previously approved documents.
Petroleum and Other Minerals Development Act/Continental Shelf Act submissions:
The following Consent Application documents were submitted to DECC on 13th October 2021 and can be viewed at the links below:
Further Information submission to DECC
Further information in relation to surveys to be carried out as part of the proposed rock placement program was submitted to DECC on 28th January 2022. The documents can be viewed at the links below:
Dumping at Sea Act submissions:
The documents listed below were submitted to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) on Oct. 20th 2021 - these are for permission under the Dumping at Sea Act 1996 (as amended):
These may be read in conjunction with the Project EIAR at the link shown under Decommissioning Consent Applications above.
Decommissioning – 2022 Activities
The final gas production from the fields occurred on 5th July 2020 and since then we have completed a significant program of facilities decommissioning and removal. This has included the mobilisation of a specialised well intervention unit – a Hydraulic Workover Unit – and the installation of temporary accommodation modules on the Bravo platform, which had been unmanned since 2000. Offshore activities continued during 2021 and a substantial program of works was completed by November 2021 – highlights include:
Well Plugging – there are 7 wells on each platform which were all drilled in the late 1970’s and have been operating continuously since then – their production equipment has been removed and the wellbores have been filled with cement to ensure they are sealed for posterity. Once the platforms are removed in 2022, there will be no trace of these wells remaining on the seabed.
Platform “Cold-Stacking” – this work was completed in August 2021. The installations are no longer 'manned'. Solar powered warning lights have been installed and the now unused platforms will be left “cold-stacked” until they are removed by a specialist removal contractor in 2022.
Subsea Well Plugging – in addition to the platforms, there are production facilities installed underwater on the seabed, as all of the smaller satellite fields developed between 1990 and 2003 utilised subsea technology. There are 10 subsea wells, which have been plugged with cement, like the platform wells – a specialised rig, the “Stena Spey” was used for this purpose and the work is was completed in November 2021.
Subsea Infrastructure Removal - in addition to plugging and sealing the subsea wellbores, a large amount of infrastructure on the seabed has been removed – for example, steel and concrete protection structures, valve assemblies, piping manifolds and the like. A specialised marine contractor – Technip FMC – completed this work in 2 separate campaigns in May and August 2021, utilising a Dive Support Vessel (DSV) and a Construction Support Vessel (CSV). The equipment recovered has been taken to dismantling locations for eventual disassembly and recycling.
The main activity remaining in 2022 will be the final removal of the two platform structures – Alpha and Bravo. This will be undertaken by a floating crane vessel, the “Thialf”, one of the largest crane vessels in the world (pictured below on another project), which is operated by Heerema Marine Contractors of the Netherlands. The platforms will have their upper sections (topsides) removed initially, followed by the lower sections (jackets) – they will then be transported to a dismantling yard in Vlissingen in the Netherlands for disassembly and eventual recycling.
The first big milestone in the removal of the offshore platforms was achieved on June 1st - the Bravo topsides was removed in one lift by the THIALF from the jacket structure and transferred to the transport barge – the photos below tell the story.
The weight of the topsides was 2755 tonnes – the two accommodation blocks weighing 680 tonnes having been removed previously – making this one of the largest ever crane lifts carried out in Ireland.
Rigging on – Ready to lift:
In 2022, we will also be removing all equipment from the Inch onshore terminal, with the exception of the telecommunications tower, which will continue in operation. There will also be some further work offshore, subject to approval of the consent applications listed above, including surveys and the mobilisation of a specialised vessel
to install protective rock covering over exposed ends of the pipelines and umbilicals which will be left in-situ.
All going well, the final decommissioning activities will be completed before the end of 2022, marking the end of continuous operations in the Kinsale Head gasfield going back to the 1970’s.