Two oil and gas trade bodies are to work more closely together to deliver a more efficient and effective decommissioning agenda for the North Sea.

Decommissioning North Sea (DNS) and Oil and Gas UK (OGUK) have announced they are to ‘align on key areas’ - while retaining their individual strengths - in the first quarter of next year.

Whilst stopping short of a merger or formal partnership, this ‘partnership approach’ has been considered against a backdrop in which the UK offshore oil and gas industry – currently facing significant economic and operational challenges – is ‘striving’ to improve competitiveness to attract major investments in new fields, manage late life operations and, when the time is right, undertake decommissioning.

Both organisations believe alignment of their two trade associations offers a ‘significant opportunity’ to streamline cross-industry activities around a clear common purpose.

Karen Seath, Interim Chief Executive of Decom North Sea, (which was set up just five years ago) said: “Working together more closely will be in the best interests of the industry, the regulator and the members of both Oil & Gas UK and Decom North Sea.

“We already work in tandem in areas such as the publication of industry guidelines. If we can further align our activities, resources and strengths, I am convinced we will be able to offer all our members a more effective and efficient mechanism to tackle this challenging phase in the life cycle of our offshore oil and gas assets.”

Mick Borwell, Environment Director, OGUK, said: “It makes sense to have a single strategy and a single voice for the oil and gas industry on decommissioning - to avoid duplication - and also when in discussion with the regulator.

“This alignment between the two bodies is not being driven by cost-savings but instead to add-value by combining our different strengths in this area.”

In reply to a question about the prospect of ‘ever closer alignment’ between OGUK and DNS, Borwell said: “It’s too early to say – we both recognise our own individual strengths.”

Deirdre Michie, Chief Executive, UGUK, added: “Decommissioning is a key issue for our industry to manage and for the market to respond to. Aligning our two organisations at this time is strategically important for the industry and will aid effective preparation for the years ahead.”

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