A significant challenge

The Netherlands has produced oil and natural gas for the past half century. Onshore drilling for oil and gas started in the Netherlands in the early 1940s. This was followed in the late 1960s by offshore drilling on the Dutch Continental Shelf. Since then, some 4,000 wells have been drilled for the exploration and production of oil and gas, of which more than half have already been permanently plugged and abandoned.

A vast network of facilities and infrastructure has been developed to extract, process and transport domestic hydrocarbon resources. It currently consists of a total of approximately 500 production locations, nearly 5,000 km of pipelines and more than 1,700 wells. In total, around 250 fields – mainly gas fields – are still producing today and make use of the available infrastructure.

Production of oil and gas involves a number of different location types. Oil and gas is produced at well sites or wellhead platforms. From there, it is sent via pipelines to a processing facility or platform, from where it is transported to the trader and ultimately to consumers. In the future, this entire infrastructure will become ripe for re-use, re-purpose or decommissioning.

Onshore, some 1,100 wells, 360 sites (varying from well sites to processing installations) and a total of 2,500 kilometres of pipelines are still in operation. In Dutch offshore waters, there are still over 160 platforms with some 640 wells, 25 of which are completed on the seabed. Most wells, however, produce from wellhead platforms. Below the sea bed, approximately 3,000 kilometres of pipelines are in operation for the transport of oil and gas between the platforms and to the Dutch coast.

For further explanation of the different phases of exploration and production of oil and gas, please visit www.hoewerktgaswinnen.nl.

In the coming decades an increasing number of oil and gas fields will reach the end of their economic life cycle. The government and industry, through Nexstep, is committed to facilitating and co-ordinating the re-use and re-purposing of the infrastructure in order to contribute to the energy transition. It will however in quite some cases not be possible to re-use or re-purpose the available hardware. In these cases the wells will be abandoned and the hardware will be dismantled. Where possible the hardware will be recycled.