SMY Dec 2015

SMY Dec 2015









H.E. Lee, K.L Na, N.A.Wan Abdullah Zawawi , M.S. Liew
(Offshore Engineering Center, Universiti Teknologi PETRONAS)

Being essentially a structured method to deal with or rid of unused oil and gas infrastructure, decommissioning is that dreaded stint after any asset’s ‘glory-days’, when ageing facilities can no longer justify their original intent or current purpose. It entails a complex process which the operator of an offshore installation goes through to ultimately remove old-disused platforms in an economical manner suited to safeguard the best interests of the offshore workforce and the environment. While it is not exclusively for fixed platforms, it can be inferred to a certain extent that their floating counterparts are relatively easier to deal with, given similar water depth ranges; which is rather true for most floating storage units in Malaysian waters. With over 300 fixed offshore platforms in the country of which more than half are approaching the end of their intended service life, reality is starting to sink in that many of these platforms may have to be removed or dealt with in the near future. To date, only a handful of fixed offshore platforms in Malaysian waters have been decommissioned and so far, performed without a proper governing localized regulatory framework.

Zooming out, decommissioning is by no means a new thing for more seasoned offshore hydrocarbon regions like that of Gulf of Mexico and the North Sea. Both have accumulated decades of unique decommissioning experiences and strategies that, in the present revolve mainly around fixed steel structures in relatively shallow waters. The 1995 hall-mark controversial Brent SPAR decommissioning in the North Sea is of course, a resounding outlier to conventional fixed platforms. Notwithstanding it being a deep-water floater, the public dispute that ensued serves as a firm reminder that decommissioning is far more than just an environmental friendly, techno-economic exercise. Rather, it is a complex mix of all the latter entwined with a flavor of social and political factors. Political or public reaction, more than often linked to environmental impacts of a decommissioning campaign, is equally important, if not more than its techno-economic considerations.

Coming back a little closer to home, it is interesting to note that the ASEAN Council on Petroleum (ASCOPE) began to look for decommissioning guidelines in 2006 due to the growing number of ageing [1] offshore infrastructure in the ASEAN region, going past the 20 year old mark. Although a gallant effort, the guidelines alone have yet to make much significance due to their genericity as well as the fact that decommissioning requires far more in-depth technical handbooks on its various works, all of which are anticipated to come from ASEAN countries and industries [1].  Malaysia, as part of the ASEAN community, has no governing legislation for decommissioning. What she does have, however, is the 2008 PETRONAS Guidelines for Decommissioning of Upstream Installations, recommending “decommissioning of facilities to be evaluated on a case by case basis based on the standards imposed” [2]. Decommissioning in the country is still in its infant stages and the handful of executed projects has largely employed re-use or artificial reefing techniques.

Blessed with marine biodiversity and a water temperature range of 26 to 31 degrees Celsius all year round, one would be inclined to think that a ‘rigs –to-reef’ program would chance upon success. What the term really means is simply taking a dis-used ‘rig’ and turning it into a marine life habitat, or ‘reef’. Easier said than done, there are numerous socio-techno-economic and environmental challenges in doing so but such a discussion will be left to articles suited later in this series. Indeed, the ‘rigs to reef’ program has shown very encouraging results as is reflected in the reefing of the Baram 8 jacket platform off the coast of Sarawak in 2004 where it today serves as a habitat for various marine-reef species.

Another more publicized example is Seaventures Dive Resort, a decommissioned jack up oil rig converted into a diver’s ‘offshore-hotel’ and haven of the coast of Sabah which is now populated by world class marine diversity.

When pieced together, Malaysia does seem to have a unique combination to actualize the concept of enabling the function of a steel oil platform to ‘cross-industry’ from the energy sector to fisheries and tourism industries. The topsides of a platform structure could potentially serve as an ‘offshore-hotel’ while its submerged portion provides a stable surface for marine life to seek protection, congregate and form habitats. The challenge then is to locate suitable zones for such re-assignments and to economically engineer the platform transfer from its original site to one that is more in favor of tourism and marine life. It is prudent to note that this is put very simply here wherein the actual operation is comprised of highly complex engineering and processes governed by strict local and international regulations. But for now, what is more important than the challenge itself is the fact that this effectively opens up possibilities of whole new decommissioning niches in Malaysian home waters. Smaller satellite platforms may even be added around the main jacket platforms, completely submerged,  to act as fringing artificial reef packets which would enhance the standing of marine diversity on and about the ‘offshore-hotel’ ; that being just one out of many idea variants.

As more and more ageing, dis-used platforms pile up on the country’s decommissioning ‘to-do-list’, opportunities are abound and it is high time we took a more proactive measure in dealing with this. Imagine for instance the prospect of having an offshore hotel chain off the East Peninsular coastline. We are in an age where it is possible to engineer and chart our technologies into a more sustainable future. Transforming offshore oil and gas platforms into the likes of fish regeneration areas, marine parks, functional recreational centers or potential getaways will not only alter how decommissioning is perceived but also encourage a new breed of cross industry trade. One might even envision joint branding between oil and gas operators and major resort-hotel chains in an offshore hotel venture. The technology required to pull this off is already here, matured by years of practice and lessons learnt in main stream offshore businesses. We are now already living in a borderless world, so why put a border on industries; it is now time to stand at what the authors call the industry cross roads.


[1] “Brunei taking lead on Asia-Pacific decommissioning guidelines, expert says,” Decomworld, 26 Feb 2015. [Online]. Available:
[2] M. L. &. K. N.A.Wan Abdullah Zawawi, “Decommissioning of Offshore Platform: A Sustainable Framework,” steel:my MSSA, Perak, 2014.



Designing Excellence through a Competition and Rigs.volution

With the mission of preparing students of engineering and architecture towards professional excellence, once again MSSA and CIDB jointly run the Open Ideas Competition (OIC), whose objectives are to bridge design with construction, especially in the use of steel as a building material. Steel has tremendous potential and inertia to propel the construction industry and the event is a great platform for architectural and engineering students to learn to work together and discover ways they could reach greater heights in their professions.

Themed High Rise Residence for Students, or HRS, the 2015 OIC brought together 162 students and 15 supervisors from 10 participating universities to design a hall of residence that provides all the essential facilities that create the social and recreational environments governed by by-laws, authority and university’s management requirements. The residential complex should also support community living, be almost self-contained and integrated with the community and contributing positively to it. The end product: a living space that inspires and empowers students into becoming productive and dynamic citizens.

The contestants needed to focus on functionality in planning, producing innovative solutions that relate to context, scale and building users. They also had to emphasise on the use of local materials in creating quality spaces and integration with the site context whilst retaining the natural physical features of the site as much as possible.

Obviously this was no easy feat; among the many challenges the contestants had to overcome include complying with the social and religious norms of Malaysian students, making sure that the facilities can be let out to outsiders during the quite months of the semester breaks, employing creative use of Industrialized Building System (IBS) and of course, using steel as the main structural and finishing material in an innovative way,

Judges admit that the submissions were highly creative: the students have once again proven to be talented and committed to this competition. That being said, the judges did point out that the contestants could have broken even further away from the norm and explored unchartered territories in terms of their design, demonstrating a higher level of originality and resourcefulness.

The Deputy Chairman of the competition’s Organising Committee, Associate Professor Ar Faridah Adnan, in her closing speech remarked that the contestants could improve on theoretical reasoning and positioning in design philosophy, focusing on the goal of serving the needs of the people and enhancing the built environment instead of the more common thematic designs. She posits that ‘architecture cannot only happen once; the act of design is a well considered process that incorporates established pedagogy, values and worldviews’.

However, the students have in general done very well, fully understanding the competition brief and presenting good detailing in architecture, thanks primarily to their supervisors and the strong support from the Universities and Deans. The Grand Prize was won by the team from Universiti Sains Malaysia, which was led by Nurul Nabilah bt Hazri. The second prize also went to a team from USM, led by Ahmad Faruq bin Zulkifli. The team led by Foo Yihung from Universiti Malaya took home the third prize whereas three consolation prizes were bagged by teams from Universiti Teknologi Petronas (UTP), Universiti Teknologi MARA (UiTM) Perak and USM.

The prizes were given out in a ceremony in September that also celebrated the launch of the ‘Rigs.volution’ a project promoting off-shore decommissioning, wherein old and dis-used oil and gas structures are repurposed and given a new life, allowing ocean space to be effectively utilized without compromising marine habitat. The project is a joint initiative by UTP’s Offshore Engineering Centre headed by Associate Professor Dr Ir Mohd Shahir Liew and MSSA, and is supported by CIDB.

The decommissioning of these ageing structures means that they may be turned into an artificial reef, marine research centre, or even an off-shore hotel that boosts eco-tourism! Some of these models and concepts are already quite popular, such as the Seaventures Dive Resort, a decommissioned jack up oil rig converted into a diver’s offshore-hotel underneath which is found breathtaking world class marine diversity – and the initiative is to encourage more of such endeavours.

Surely, there are challenges ahead, but opportunities are also aplenty for Malaysia, who has all the pieces in the decommissioning jigsaw puzzle; all that is needed is to join these pieces together and form a stunning decommissioning portrait.

Overall, with the presentation of the OIC prizes and the launching of Rigs.volution, the 11th of September 2015 marked a pivotal moment in Malaysia’s construction industry – affirming yet again that success is for those who dare to be different and are bold enough to grab the opportunities that lie ahead.


Piecing a Billion Dollar Jigsaw: A Mind-set for the Offshore Decommissioning Boom

K.L. Na, H.E. Lee, N.A. Wan Abdullah Zawawi, M.S. Liew

Malaysia is home to over three hundred fixed offshore platforms and more than half of these assets are approaching their late-life operations. Once a platform is deemed no longer feasible for continued operations – which may be due to safety or economic reasons, among many others – a decision will have to be made on its next course of life. This is where the decommissioning process comes into play, being a niche right at the very end of a platform’s life cycle intended to seek sustainable solutions in dealing with dis-used assets. It is, nonetheless, notoriously known for its association with delays and bloated costs; a reputation earned largely due to inefficient practices and lack of experience.

We believe that whilst this notoriety is warranted, the industry need not stay on the same path. If one would scrutinize the present state of affairs, various pieces of a holistic decommissioning jigsaw puzzle are already existent and strewn all over the offshore oil and gas sector. And what we need to do now is to piece them together. This exercise is long overdue for a country dealing with an increasing number of ageing assets, made especially pronounced with the recent sluggish oil prices which may actually create an environment that favours decommissioning. In perspective, a low oil price climate would seem at first sight to push decommissioning farther out of the picture but what it really does is to usher in a reality that the current practice on field life extensions sustained by high oil prices cannot continue indefinitely.

An offshore platform suffers from weaker structural frame due to years of corrosion or accidental impacts, ‘shrinkage’ in many cases which is a reduction of height above water level due to seabed subsidence alongside increased repair-works and maintenance which result in increased OPEX costs and production downtime. In a high, par 100 USD per barrel oil market, such OPEX expenditure is justified, coupled with deployment of enhanced oil recovery technologies, but on a lower 50-ish USD climate, it no longer makes any economic sense to keep them up and running. While good potential platforms may be temporarily shut-down and left in situ while awaiting a market rebound or a technological breakthrough, there are many others that will have to be scheduled for imminent removal.

Furthermore, fixed offshore platforms are typically constructed with a pre-determined design life in mind. Part of the design assumption entails provision for submerged members’ corrosion in the range of 0.2 – 0.4mm per year over its operating life span. This is a clear physical constraint governed by irrefutable laws of material sciences; there is only so much remedial work can achieve until the underlying member is corroded to the extent of see through thickness, worn from years out at sea.

Thus far only a handful of Malaysian platforms have been decommissioned and in the current environment, this number will only continue to grow. There will come a tipping point in the country and region even, where we will see exponential growth rates in platform decommissioning just as was experienced in more mature oil regions like that of the North Sea. In the three years leading to 2015, the number of wells plugged and abandoned in the UK has more than tripled (McKinsey, 2015) wherein on hindsight to only about five years back, decommissioning was something that was often hived off on the interim. This sudden increased demand and transition can be shocking, especially if the local industry is not prepared to support it, and can trigger knee jerk reactions which would lead to large schedule-cost overruns. Malaysia is now decommissioning only a handful of platforms – just like how it first started in the North Sea – and it is not unreasonable to suggest that, like other parts of the world, a decommissioning boom is imminent.

While it is not entirely the reverse of installation, decommissioning calls for similar resource and infrastructure requirements; from the need of heavy lift vessels to fabrication yards. But in all fairness, decommissioning does pose several unique and, if poorly planned, potentially costly activities such as subsea cutting and waste management. This does not mean that the technology is not available for hire but rather, points out the fact that the conventional installation mindset may not match decommissioning the framework it deserves. Just like how the country’s offshore up-stream installation operators, consultants, and service providers work close-knit in an effective ‘un-documented consortium-web’ of best practices and relations, the decommissioning sector, being void of this, is gravely in need of a proper governing framework. Only this time, we do not have the luxury of time and money to learn from past mistakes, which was essentially how the installation scene evolved into its present state. Malaysia already has local capabilities aplenty with where warranted, and good network reach to international partners for both technology and knowledge transfer. In essence, the individual pieces of the decommissioning jigsaw are already in place and there is no need to reinvent the wheel; all we need to do now is to assemble them well to finally form a pretty decommissioning figure.

Ready or not, decommissioning is coming as an inevitable part of a platform’s life cycle and those who are prepared for it when ‘it booms’ stand to gain tremendous competitive advantage. Decommissioning is seemingly tied to unnecessary cost overrun expenditures but this can be kept in check with more effective planning and execution of its underlying activities. The development of systematic frameworks or methods which are diverse, innovative, robust and practical will play a critical role in how decommissioning is perceived and acted upon. With a projected global worth of over USD100 billion by 2030 (McKinsey, 2015) decommissioning is truly a multi-billion dollar jigsaw puzzle waiting to be solved. The fact that it is still at its infancy in Malaysia presents a remarkable business opportunity to local service providers who would fill in the gaps, even better still, with innovative and world-leading solutions.

The pieces are within reach; the bare frame is laid; players are moving into position; and the clock is ticking.








© 2016 MSSA Malaysian Structural Steel Association All Rights Reserved.




Aqil Muhammad Yusof and Azelin Mohamed Noor.

Department of Petroleum Engineering and Department of Management & Humanities, Universiti Teknologi PETRONAS

In-depth knowledge on petroleum reservoirs usually determines the credibility of geologists, petroleum engineer, geophysicists, and reservoir engineer.  These professionals gather vital evidence acquired from seismic readings or logging of formations. Once the evidences are processed, the formations will then be classified as non-potential or potential reservoir. Potential reservoirs could be swollen with hydrocarbons.  Following this classification, further investigations need to be done to measure the porosity and permeability of the surrounding rock.  Porosity and permeability of the rock surrounding the reservoir will normally affect the cost of oil extraction and production.  To understand more on petroleum reservoirs, this article will explain the topography of petroleum reservoirs, and the concepts of porosity and permeability. Besides that, this article will also introduce some factors that will affect the porosity of a rock and how it impacts on porosity calculation that is commonly done by petroleum engineers to estimate the spaces that can filled by potential hydrocarbons.

Petroleum reservoirs are generally a source of hydrocarbons that is beneath the earth crust.  It may be under land or under water (offshore).  The hydrocarbons in the reservoir are most commonly found inside a layer of porous rock or sedimentary rocks, just like water inside a sponge.  Sedimentary rocks that holds hydrocarbons include sandstone, limestone and dolomite.  Other than layers of porous rocks, petroleum reservoirs also require a layer of impermeable rock that functions as a seal, trapping the hydrocarbons in place.

Figure 1: An example of a petroleum reservoir containing Oil, Gas and Water

Image source

Porosity and Permeability

Porosity is defined as the amount of pore spaces that can accommodate fluids such as hydrocarbons and water. To put it simply, it is the capacity of the rock to hold fluids. This parameter is essential for reservoir experts to quantify the amount of hydrocarbons in place that determines whether that particular reservoir is profitable or not.  However, rocks with high porosity can also be a problem if the pore spaces are not interconnected with each other.  This is because reservoir fluids has difficulty flowing through the rock. Porosity is of no use if the rock is impermeable.

Permeability is defined as a measure of the ability of the rock to act as a medium that transmits fluids. The unit measurement used for permeability is Darcy or usually represented as ‘k’.  A porous formation is not necessarily permeable, but highly porous formations are often highly permeable as well. Generally, sandstones and carbonates such as limestone and dolomites are the most common reservoir rocks as they are usually both porous and permeable.  On the other hand, impermeable rock like shale which has low permeability usually serves as a good seal that traps hydrocarbons when petroleum accumulation takes place as shown in Figure 1.

Types of porosity

In terms of deposition, porosity is classified into two main categories which are primary and secondary.  Primary porosity is the porosity that is initially developed in the reservoir rock ever during its deposition time while secondary porosity is a porosity that is developed after the initial porosity has been formed. Usually it is due to various geological activity and geochemical processes that impacts significant alteration in the reservoir rock characteristic.  Some examples are grain dissolution in carbonates and sandstones, formation of vugs and fractures developed in some sedimentary rocks. Vugs are cavities that varies with size inside rock that results from dissolution or earth tectonic activity. When there is cavity, there will be more space for fluids to accumulate inside that particular rock. Hence, the rock will have higher porosity. The same concept is also applied to fractures developed in the rock.

In terms of connectivity, there is effective and absolute porosity. Generally, not all pore spaces are interconnected throughout the reservoir.  However, some of them are well interconnected that it forms channels for fluid to flow easily. This porosity is called effective porosity and it is somewhat closely related to the rock’s permeability. Absolute porosity however is defined as the ratio of the total pore volume in a rock to the bulk volume of the rock. This parameters consider all of the pore spaces available in the rock let it be interconnected or isolated from each other.


Figure 2: Porosity and Permeability

Image source:

The right side of Figure 2 shows the rock is only considered as porous and permeable if there are spaces for fluid to accumulate in the rock and it is interconnected with each other which gives better fluid flow. This is an ideal characteristic of a good reservoir rock sought by petroleum engineers after simple porosity calculations is done. Porosity of a rock is calculated by finding the ratio of void spaces to total rock volume. As mentioned before, there are two types of porosity which are effective and absolute. Effective porosity, φeff is typically calculated using the total volume of pore spaces that is interconnected divided by the total volume of the rock or what engineers refer to as bulk volume. Similarly, Absolute porosity, φabs is then calculated using the total volume of pore spaces whether it is interconnected or not divided with the bulk volume. Refer to Figure 3 and Figure 4.

Figure 3: Formula used to calculate effective porosity of a rock

Figure 4: Formula used to calculate absolute porosity of a rock

Factors affecting porosity

Porosity can be affected by:

1.The shape of the grain particles

Particle shapes are generally classified into two types which are rounded and angular. Rocks with rounded grain particles has more porosity compared to the angular ones

2.Grain sorting arrangement

Rocks with well sorted arrangement usually gives a higher porosity.  As shown in Figure 5, grains that are poorly sorted has less space for fluid to accumulate when compared to well sorted grains.

Figure 5: Sorting arrangement of grain particles and its shape

Image source:




Porosity decreases as the amount of interstitial (in between the rock grains) and cementing material increases. Other than fluids, the pore spaces between the grains of rock can also be accommodate by smaller materials. These small interstitial materials or minerals that accommodate in between the rock such as quartz or cement can reduce the void spaces that are ideally meant for fluids.


4.Vugs and fractures

These are commonly non-interconnected pore spaces that is caused by dissolution of soluble materials after the formation of the rock.  Some fractures of the rock however can be very useful as it is an important source of good permeability for low porosity rock.

Porosity and permeability is one of the main key aspect for petroleum engineers to roughly estimate the capacity of oil, gas or both that is available in a discovered reservoir. Even though it is just an estimation, these parameters play a crucial role for all oil and gas companies in determining whether the discovered petroleum reservoirs are worth investing with the costly current production technology.

© 2016 MSSA Malaysian Structural Steel Association All Rights Reserved.








1 OM-1045 Mohd Yazmil Bin Md Yatim Universiti kebangsaan Malaysia (UKM) 11/5/14
2 OM-1046 Dr. Raudhah binti Ahmadi Universiti Malaysia Sarawak (UNIMAS) 2/24/15
3 OM-1047 Tay Ink Chu NYC CONTACTS SDN BHD 3/2/15
4 OM-1048 Ahmad Syahmir bin Mansor LWC Architects 2/8/15
5 OM-1049 Nicholas Loke Yin Hann Principle Perspective Engineering Sdn Bhd 3/4/15
6 OM-1050 Ungku Ibrahim Bin Ungku Ahmad Tekla (SEA) Pte Ltd 5/20/15
7 OM-1051 Noor Hisham Bin Che Din AIRIS ENGINEERS SDN BHD 7/8/15
8 OM-1052 Nur Asyraf binti Md Akhir Universiti Teknologi Petronas 7/10/15
9 OM-1053 Shanmuga Sekar Thenappan K. L. Consult Associates Sdn Bhd 7/23/15
10 OM-1054 Pang Wei Li Sabah Projek Konsultant 8/3/15
11 OM-1055 Ir. Song Perng Yeu Jurutera Perunding Bumireka 8/19/15
12 OM-1056 Dr. Nurul Izma binti Mohammed Universiti Teknologi Petronas (UTP) 10/20/15
13 OM-1057 Ng Chee Yee Universiti Teknologi Petronas (UTP) 11/15/15
1 AM-0046 Mr. Amreek Singh Dhillon AM Modular Sdn Bhd 3/4/15
2 IM-0067 M METAL (M) SDN BHD 12/9/14
3 IM-0068 JUST STEEL E & C SDN BHD 5/18/15
4 IM-0069 RIECKERMANN (M) SDN BHD 9/30/15


© 2016 MSSA Malaysian Structural Steel Association All Rights Reserved.




1st PRIZE – RM 10,000.00 (Sponsored by CIDB)



Supervisor :  Dato Professor Madya Ar Dr. Ku Azhar Ku Hassan  & Dr. Fatimah Denan

1.Nurul Nabilah bt Hazri (Team leader)

2.Tan Boon Im

3.Che Norashikin Bt Ahmad Azmi

4.Lai Vincent

5.Mohd Abqari bin Abd Wahab

6.Khairunnisa bt Zulkifly


2nd PRIZE – RM7,000.00  (Sponsored by AME Group)



Supervisor :  Dato Professor Madya Ar Dr. Ku Azhar Ku Hassan & Dr. Fatimah Denan

1.Ahmad Faruq bin Zulkifli (Team Leader)

2.Fatimah bt Khalid

3.Koid Jia Miin

4.Nigel Lum Kah Khri

5.Adilah bt Kamaruzaman

6.Junaidah binti Abdullah


3rd PRIZE – RM 5,000.00 (Sponsored by Siam Yamato Steel)




Supervisor :   Ar.  Dr. Yong Kuan


1.Foo Yihung (Team

2.Low Pei Han

3.Yeoh Sheng






CONSOLATION PRIZE – RM3,000.00 (Sponsored by Ann Yak Siong Hardware Sdn Bhd)



Supervisor: Dr. Nurul Izma binti Mohamed

1.Nurul Maizatulakma bt Mustafa (Team leader)

2.Nor Asnida Bt Md Husin

3.Atira bt Zulkarnin

4.Muhammad Haikal b. Azahar

5.Muhammad Azfar Afif bin Munir

6.Nur Azdli bin Mohamed Noor



CONSOLATION PRIZE – RM3,000.00 (Sponsored by STAM Engineering Sdn Bhd)




Supervisor : Dato Professor Madya Ar Dr. Ku Azhar Ku Hassan & Dr. Fatimah Denan


1.Andy Sufri bin Mohamad Johari (Team leader)

2.Muhamad Nur Alif bin Nasir

3.Nur Idatun Nadia bt Mohamad Noor

4.Sharifah Hasnul Izzaty bt Sayed Iskandar

5.Nur Fatin bt Mustafa

6.Ruzainah bt Ahmad Taufik

© 2016 MSSA Malaysian Structural Steel Association All Rights Reserved.