SCOTLAND’S bid to take the lead in the global oil and gas decommissioning industry received a significant boost yesterday when the Scottish Government announced £1.5 million worth of grants to projects that will tackle the need to decommission the industry’s ageing infrastructure.

The Decommissioning Action Plan launched by Scottish Enterprise and Highlands and Islands Enterprise in 2016 stated that opportunities are set to grow as part of the natural life cycle of oil and gas projects.

The plan aims to help establish Scotland as a global centre of excellence in decommissioning, just as the country led the development of offshore infrastructure in the UK continental shelf.

Decommissioning activity in Scotland over the next ten years could be valued at between £8.3 billion and £11.3bn, Scottish Enterprise said, supporting peak employment of 16,925 to 22,775 jobs, with the global decommissioning industry worth much more.

The six projects across Scotland will be offered a share of the £1.5m awarded in the second round of the Scottish Government’s Decommissioning Challenge Fund (DCF) awards.

Grant offers have been made to six projects, in Edinburgh, Glasgow, Kishorn, Shetland and Orkney.

The DCF supports infrastructure improvements and innovation to deliver decommissioning of North Sea oil and gas infrastructure. Projects in this round include innovation in well plugging and abandonment, dry dock upgrades, quayside strengthening investigations and two specialist decommissioning equipment projects in Shetland.

During a visit to Dales Marine Ltd at the Imperial Dry Dock in Leith Docks – one of the projects to receive a grant offer – Energy Minister Paul Wheelhouse said: “Decommissioning offers a variety of opportunities for Scottish based firms, such as Dales Marine, right across the supply chain.

“I am delighted to contribute to this ambitious project to upgrade the Imperial Dry Dock in Leith, which will ensure the future of this historically significant site for vessel decommissioning, keeping skilled jobs within our economy.

“Our Decommissioning Challenge Fund is a clear signal to the market to think seriously about decommissioning – a market that is forecast to be worth up to £17bn over the period to 2025 – and to plan and invest accordingly. “

A DCF programme board, drawn from government and industry, is overseeing the delivery of the fund.

The other five grants are for the upgrade and improvement of dry dock gates and infrastructure facilities at Kishorn Port; increased capacity of equipment for reusable equipment at Lerwick Engineering and Fabrication Ltd; a grant for the design of a new type of tubular cutting tool for Glasgow-based Downhole Energy; a specialist Shetlands decommissioning service provider at EMN Plant; and a Lyness oil and gas decommissioning base on Hoy in Orkney where Orkney Islands Council is the lead organisation.