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Big hopes for Clearwell’s decommissioning technology

Clearwell Technology director Bruce Cardno performing testing.
Clearwell Technology director Bruce Cardno performing testing using the company's high-pressure test cell.

North-east energy services company Clearwell Technology is ramping up testing of a tool it says may halve oil and gas decommissioning emissions and costs.

Aboyne-based Clearwell is now developing a prototype for its patented technology after previous testing, which was backed by Scottish Enterprise (SE).

It is hoped the firm’s new thermal milling system, Therm-X-Mill, will transform oil and gas well plugging and abandonment processes by eliminating the use of drilling rigs and associated equipment – saving time and money.

Almost half the cost of any decommissioning project is spent on the plugging and abandonment of wells. We aim to transform the industry’s approach. This is a really exciting time for us.”

Bruce Cardno, director, Clearwell Technology.

Director Bruce Cardno said: “As energy companies focus on transition, our technology aims to make the oil and gas well decommissioning process simpler and more environmentally friendly, whilst also releasing resources to drive net-zero projects in the industry.

“Almost half the cost of any decommissioning project is spent on the plugging and abandonment of wells, so by reducing this cost with our Therm-X-Mill tool we aim to transform the industry’s approach.”

Prototype under development

Mr Cardno added: “We are ramping up our testing from our site in Aboyne as we progress towards prototype development.

“This is a really exciting time for us, and we are hugely thankful for the support from Scottish Enterprise to help drive our technology.”

Clearwell is majority-owned by Mr Cardno and fellow director Paul Ray.

SMART:Scotland grant funding of £84,000 from SE supported the company’s feasibility testing programme.

SE head of low carbon transition Andy McDonald said: “Evidence from industry reports highlight the decommissioning market is growing, especially as more focus is spent on energy transition activities and less on drilling new wells.

“This creates opportunities for companies like Clearwell Technology to provide decommissioning technology that will help aid the wider global energy transition.

“It is fantastic to see a company from Aberdeenshire take forward this innovation.

“Projects like this highlight the collaborative approach to delivering net-zero solutions taking place here in Scotland.”

Scottish Enterprise head of low carbon transition Andy McDonald.

According to a Decom Insights report from trade body Offshore Energies UK, the decommissioning market is currently around 12% of UK offshore industry expenditure.

It is estimated more than £16 billion will be spent on decom projects over the next decade, with around 4,000 wells likely to be decommissioned.

The North Sea Transition Deal set out the offshore oil and gas sector’s decommissioning supply chain target to ensure 50% local content around projects.

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