DECOM Adapting to the Challenge

Several quality services and a great project management team ensure a well-coordinated and proficient large-scale decommissioning project. High pressure water abrasive cutting has proven successful in reliability, time savings, and safety and is environmentally friendly. Today, the well cutting process is less challenging with newer technology in water abrasive cutting methods and procedures. Not all wells are as seen on well schematics and not all conductors and piles are as seen on reporting. It takes experience.

Tripod Removal web

3 pile and conductor, water abrasive cut 15 ft BML – Piles intact


What makes cutting spreads teamed with project management so valuable, as offered by Offshore Technical Solutions, LLC (OTS), is the ability to adapt to unforeseen situations. In 2015 alone, OTS modified standard tooling to complete jobs in over 670 ft of water, with cameras added, and mobilized to cut a 94-in. caisson that turned out to be a 144-in. caisson. All jobs were successful. OTS and other water abrasive cutting companies do not rely strictly on abrasive cutting, they also manage, operate and adapt diamond wire saws, dredging units, shears, conductor slot recovery and alternative P&A equipment.

With a combined experience of over 65years, OTS has seen high pressure water abrasive cutting systems evolve from an unknown to a higher cost new technology to a service of choice by the major operators and general contractors. As with many technology evolution cycles, hybrids are developed, front-runners are decided and standards are set. OTS has found that consulting with clients on water abrasives as their first choice option and combining additional removal tooling such as diamond wire saws or guillotine saws when required can equate to a successfully completed project with lower vessel cost, minimized risk, and overall lower project cost.

Federal and state governments recognize and often require non-explosive solutions—meaning, water abrasives and mechanical methods strictly. At times, explosives are considered cheaper and faster to many project leaders. There are pros and cons to many decisions and each is dependent on the project at hand. Again, the combination has to be utilized with a well-constructed plan, having as the end results for the client: zero accidents and cost effectiveness.

OTS offers “slot recovery” in conjunction with reliable cutting services. Slot recovery is the removal of wells for wave load reduction or for drilling a new well using the same structured bay on the platform. This is not new to the industry, however, convincing and training PMs of the value in combining all services to complete the job with total confidence is a work in progress.

Pile Removal 300 dpi

BA A 23-A, 8 pile removal


The planning and hiring of service companies to go onsite is where OTS and other top decom companies aspire to help the client make a valuable, safe, and cost savings decision. Profit, as the professional audience knows, is sometimes decided on one project and other times over a campaign of removals in one or even several fields. To minimize downtime and properly keep the services in good order requires specialized skill sets and maintenance practices. To specialize in cutting services, which can make or break a project, is where the OTS management and supervision teams aim to have total effectiveness—leaving the client with minimal concern after making a choice of services.

Training the appropriate technicians and supervisors to operate mechanical, water abrasive or other cutting equipment is not unachievable. It has been recognized by service companies and the barge/liftboat contractors that properly trained personnel can make or break a project, as with many industrial fields. To train these persons requires total attention to detail of the particular service provided. To drive that point home, consider that a water abrasive cutting unit is designed to cut through several inches of steel, grout, water and other unknowns (seen in photo). With that in mind, what would be expected of how this affects the assets that power the cut? Obviously, these factors are costly and require specialized engineering and operation.

Conductor Cut 300 dpi

Water abrasive cut through a grouted multistring 9-5/8 in. - 36 in 177 ft of water.


Taking the process a step further, camera systems, electronic umbilical, diver and ROV support equipment all can be used to enhance the project success—with scientific and calculated precision. Ensuring that process can be repeated from site-to-site requires specialization. OTS believes that technicians should be cross-trained for all of these operations to support the client. That being the philosophy, the company also requires personnel to understand that there is a point where OTS allows the client to do what they do best and are specialized, trained and experienced in doing. Diving, crane operation, construction and cementing are a few examples where cross-training is not beneficial to the company. ISN and other safety regulating bodies have helped make sure the service companies define specialization and the accompanying training necessary.

Combined cutting services, specialized training, and project planning buy-in are proving year after year to be the safest and most cost-effective ways to take on the decommissioning challenge. Breaking new boundaries and starting to support the mature offshore asset global markets can be made easier by combining the services available from the start.

Historical data from Offshore Technology Solutions 2015 projects can be made available upon request to

Corporate Headquarters

Ocean News & Technology
is a publication of TSC Strategic

7897 SW Jack James Drive
Suite A, Stuart, FL 34997

Go to top