NDA teams up with oil and gas decommissioning centre

27 September 2022

The UK's Nuclear Decommissioning Authority (NDA) and the National Decommissioning Centre (NDC) have signed a three-year collaborative research agreement - the first of its kind between the nuclear and oil and gas decommissioning sectors.

The National Decommissioning Centre (Image: University of Aberdeen)

The NDC is a GBP38 million (USD41 million) partnership between the University of Aberdeen, Net Zero Technology Centre (NZTC) and industry. NZTC develops and deploys technology to accelerate an affordable net-zero energy industry. Founded in 2017, the centre was created as part of the Aberdeen City Region Deal, with GBP180 million of UK and Scottish government funding.

The strategic partnership between the NDA and NDC, supporting research with a potential value of up to GBP900,000, will see the NDA work with researchers from the University of Aberdeen in areas of mutual interest to both the nuclear and oil and gas sectors.

The areas of research will include decarbonisation of decommissioning activities, economic impacts, cost benchmarking and remote operations in hazardous environments.

The new agreement builds on three years of discussions involving the NDA, the NDC, Net Zero Technology Centre, regulators including the North Sea Transition Authority, and industry bodies, which sought to identify mutually beneficial opportunities through the insights and lessons learned from each sector.

The partnership will draw on current research taking place at the NDC and the University of Aberdeen to deliver a programme of research that will provide benefit to both the nuclear and offshore energy sectors.

It will include links to a project backed by the Scottish government's Energy Transition Fund in which the NDC is working with the offshore energy sector to reduce emissions from decommissioning operations by introducing alternative processes, new technologies and assessing opportunities for wider collaboration.

The partnership also aims to harness the capabilities of the NDC's GBP1.6 million simulation suite, to enable operational scenarios related to nuclear decommissioning activity to be trialled in a safe, virtual environment. The suite can undertake detailed marine technology and operational simulations as well as complex data modelling and visualisation.

"The civil nuclear industry has engaged with other industry sectors on many areas of common interest in recent years, sharing lessons learned on over 15 topics, involving more than 150 organisations," said NDA Head of Cross-Industry Learning Karl Sanderson. "This new relationship with the NDC will build on prior collaboration to enable joint projects and research to be conducted, that aim to under-pin the UK as an emerging centre of global excellence in decommissioning."

"We are delighted to be working in partnership with the NDA to explore areas where our expertise can provide value in both nuclear and offshore energy decommissioning contexts, including remote operations, decarbonisation, cost benchmarking, and potentially underwater laser cutting," said Professor Richard Neilson, director of the NDC at the University of Aberdeen. "We look forward to working closely with colleagues at the NDA as we seek solutions that help to meet the many challenges of nuclear decommissioning, while delivering cross-sector benefits."

Researched and written by World Nuclear News