The Government of Australia has taken the next step in its plans to remove the Northern Endeavour FPSO facility by releasing a Request for Expressions of Interest (REOI) for Phase 1 decommissioning works, in spite of the debate that continues to rage over the decommissioning levy.
In 2019, the 170,000 bpd Northern Endeavour FPSO was shut down by the National Offshore Petroleum Safety and Environmental Management Authority (NOPSEMA) after an immediate threat to health and safety was found at the facility.
The task of decommissioning the infrastructure fell to owners Northern Oil & Gas Australia (NOGA) but, in late 2019 the company went into liquidation and so the facility has been abandoned, with the national government forced to maintain the facility. At the end of 2020, the government decided it was finally time to push the facility into retirement, announcing it would take on responsibility to decommission the FPSO and all related infrastructure.
In order to cover the estimated cost of US$200mn for this task, the Australian government issued a levy to the oil and gas industry to help foot the bill, which was met with disproval from many organisations such as the Australian Petroleum Production and Exploration Association (APPEA), ExxonMobil and Chevron.
Despite this, the Resources, Water and Northern Australia Minister, Keith Pitt, is pressing ahead and said that the release of the REOI was the next step in the process to disconnect and decommission the Northern Endeavour from oilfields in the Timor Sea.
A REOI from the Department of Industry, Science, Energy and Resources has been published on AusTender, inviting qualified and experienced organisations to demonstrate their capability and capacity to undertake the Phase 1 works to decommission and disconnect the FPSO from the related subsea equipment.
“The Australian Government committed to decommission the Northern Endeavour last December to remove potential future risks to the environment,” Pitt commented. “The department intends to use this process to shortlist organisations for a more detailed request for proposal stage later in the year.”
Responses to the REOI are due before 2:00pm Australian Eastern Standard Time, 29 July 2021.