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Nic Duncan

Technical Discipline: Subsea Decommissioning
Years in industry: 26
Years at Xodus: 7
Nic Duncan Square

What is your role at Xodus?

Generally I project manage decommissioning assignments, which might be preparation of regulatory documentation, conducting repurposing assessments, or developing decommissioning concepts among others. I also provide technical input to subsea and decommissioning scopes managed by others. I spend a lot of time liaising with clients and coordinating multi-discipline teams.

Why did you become a specialist?

My original background was in subsea engineering. However, my decommissioning journey started 12 years ago at Shell where I was supporting the subsea aspects of select and FEED phases for Brent decommissioning. When that work came to an end I joined Xodus, originally within the Subsea and Pipelines division. When Xodus decided to formalise its decommissioning services by creating its own division I transferred there and have been full time focused on decom ever since.

Decommissioning by its very existence represents the end of our industry, isn’t it counter intuitive for young people to get involved in this industry?

Decommissioning is the end stage for a developed asset, but it is an industry in its own right. As well as oil and gas, we are supporting clients with renewables decommissioning now, so as long as energy infrastructure is being commissioned it will eventually need to be decommissioned. The decommissioning industry is part of the wider global energy transition effort. Before we can decommission and remove infrastructure for recycling we need to determine whether there are any repurposing options for the infrastructure, this might be renewables, hydrogen, CCUS, energy storage or geothermal. There's plenty of interesting areas for new people into the industry to get involved with.

What are you most excited about for the Decommissioning sector?

It's a growing sector, and as with subsea technology, the UK doesn't just have the potential to be a world leader, it already is.

What is the biggest challenge the industry is facing?

A skills shortage is always going to be near the top. My view used to that decommissioning professionals needed to have a lot of experience already in other areas that they could bring to the decommissioning challenge. Although I still think there is an element of that required, initiatives such as the University of Aberdeen's Decommissioning MSc and Xodus Group's X-Academy are bringing in new talent tailored for the challenges that the industry faces.

What are the biggest risks facing operators who have assets that are nearing COP?

Underestimating the time it takes to prepare for decommissioning, limited specialist removal equipment, limited experienced staff.

What is the one piece of advice you would give an Operator managing a late life asset?

Don't delay planning for decommissioning. Get a dedicated team in place and engage with the regulators as early as possible.

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