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4 min read

Construct-Deconstruct: The Digital Decommissioning Approach

Construct-Deconstruct: The Digital Decommissioning Approach

When we think of construction, we typically envision either the creation of new assets or the maintenance and/or upgrade of existing assets. However, in the realm of offshore decommissioning, a different kind of construction is at play – the deconstruction of complex structures and systems. While these two processes – construction and deconstruction – may appear worlds apart, the workflows and processes are the same.  

Thus, tools beneficial to construction are equally of benefit to decommissioning. Both construction and deconstruction stand to benefit immensely in terms of ROI from the digitalization of foundational workflows: work packs, materials and completions.  

In this blog, we explore the concept of decommissioning as a construction process and discuss how digital solutions can transform the approach, execution and delivery of these challenging projects. 


Decommissioning: A Different Kind of Construction 

Decommissioning is a process that involves the systematic dismantling, removal and recycling, reuse or disposal of offshore topside structures that have reached the end of their operational life. While the end goal is the opposite of construction – reducing and removing structures – the workflows involved are analogous to those of construction. 

  • Work Packs: Essential to construction project execution, work packs are detailed sets of instructions that guide every aspect of a project. They encompass tasks, materials, timelines, safety protocols and more. In decommissioning, work packs are equally essential. They outline the procedures for dismantling structures, isolating systems and handling hazardous materials. Just as in construction, the precision and completeness, accuracy and timeliness of work packs can make or break a decommissioning project. 
  • Materials: The building blocks of construction, materials must arrive at the right place, at the right time and in the correct sequence. In decommissioning, the focus shifts to removing, recycling or disposing of materials effectively. The management of removed materials is equally part of the value-chain and is not dissimilar to the procurement and management of materials for construction. In both cases, digital tools can optimize material tracking, handling, and documentation. 
  • Completions: Completion certifications, which are vital in construction to ensure the quality and safety of delivered work, are equally important in decommissioning. They serve as the ultimate documentation of the mechanical integrity of completed work and to-standard delivery of the project at large. Just as in construction, digital completions solutions can revolutionize the decommissioning process by ensuring an efficient, safe handover. 

Digital Decommissioning Solutions 

Digital solutions are transforming the construction industry, streamlining workflows, enhancing safety, improving efficiency and encouraging sustainability. The same principles apply to decommissioning. Here are some key workflows where digitalization is poised for significant impact: 

    1. Digital Work Packs: Digital work packs provide a centralized platform for creating, managing, approving and sharing detailed project instructions. These packs include step-by-step procedures, safety protocols, timelines, and task assignments. By digitalizing work packs, decommissioning teams can ensure that all tasks are accurately documented, eliminating the potential for errors associated with manual data entry.

      Digital work pack signoffs eliminate long lead times often required for offshore working. Additionally, real-time updates and collaboration features allow teams to adjust plans as needed and instantly communicate changes to all stakeholders. 
  1. Digital Materials Management: Effective materials management is essential in both construction and decommissioning because, in both scenarios, parts and components needs to be tracked reliably and visibly throughout the value-and-supply chains. Digital material tracking software functions like a virtual warehouse, helping to keep an accurate inventory of materials in use or designated for recovering to shore (and thereafter).

    Further, decommissioning may involve the temporary installation of new pipework for water purging, which involves the procurement and handling of materials. Digital decommissioning is particularly crucial because traceability of removed materials is essential for regulatory compliance and environmental responsibility. By using digital systems, teams can efficiently track and report on materials, reducing the risk of errors and ensuring compliance. 
  2. Digital Completions: Completion certifications, a cornerstone of construction quality assurance, are equally vital in decommissioning to ensure that systems and structures have been safely and thoroughly dismantled. Completion certificates can be generated quickly and easily, ensuring that all necessary information is included, that project delivery is compliant with regulatory requirements and that the handover is tidy. This not only saves time but also minimizes the risk of incomplete or inaccurate documentation. 

Digitalizing all of the above decommissioning workflows positively impacts scheduling, budget and safety throughout the project’s lifecycle. Safety, in particular, is a top priority in both construction and decommissioning. Digital solutions enhance safety via transparent recordkeeping, accessibility of real-time and archival information and by enforcing protocols. Digital tools reinforce a Safety First project approach. 



Digitalizing offshore decommissioning workflows brings a range of benefits: 

  • Efficiency: Just as in construction, digital tools optimize workflow efficiency in decommissioning. Paperwork, administration and signoffs are completed with negligible wait-time, reducing project timelines and costs. 
  • Accuracy: Digital systems are less prone to errors, ensuring that all documentation, whether related to work packs, materials, or completions, is complete, accurate and readily accessible. 
  • Cost Savings: By reducing paperwork, improving resource allocation, and eliminating unnecessary wait times, digital solutions can lead to significant cost savings in decommissioning projects. 
  • Regulatory Compliance: Digital tools facilitate adherence to regulatory requirements, safeguarding the workforce and reducing the risk of non-compliance penalties. 
  • Environmental Responsibility: Proper material management, made more efficient through digital solutions, ensures efficient, traceable materials management. Eliminating unnecessary handling of materials shortens value-and supply chains and reduces embodied carbon, contributing to environmental sustainability. 
  • Continuous Improvement: Historical data collected through digital systems allows for comprehensive analysis and reporting. This data is invaluable for learning from past experiences and improving decommissioning processes of future projects. 


Decommissioning as Construction: Leveraging workflows and tools for project success 

The concept of decommissioning as a construction process, though seemingly unconventional, holds substantial merit. By recognizing the commonalities in workflows between construction and decommissioning, we can apply the lessons and benefits of digitalization to both domains.  

Digital solutions are transforming the decommissioning process by optimizing work pack, materials and completions workflows, while enhancing project safety, compliance and sustainability. As the industry continues to evolve and embrace digital technologies, decommissioning projects are poised to become more efficient, cost-effective and environmentally responsible; and the market is ripe for the picking. This shift not only streamlines the deconstruction process but also ensures a sustainable and efficient future for offshore decommissioning. 

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