legal and insurance

Adapters: Perth Startup Ajero Brings Digital Know-how to Oil and Gas Decommissioning

From left:    Ajero Pty Ltd's David McLeod, Farzan Marfatia and Peter Walton

From left: Ajero Pty Ltd's David McLeod, Farzan Marfatia and Peter Walton

Three oil and gas industry executives have found a way to tap into a $35 billion pool of opportunity in the waters around Australia, with the launch of their company Ajero Pty Ltd.

They have identified an emerging new market from the decommissioning of old pipelines and offshore installations.

Ajero has developed a Software as a Service (SaaS) based platform - complete with algorithm/engine - to facilitate the decommissioning process for the oil and gas industry by helping to determine the best way forward to clear the world’s oceans of abandoned offshore installations.

Ajero is the brainchild of Perth local, Farzan Marfatia. “Australia is just starting to decommission its offshore oil and gas facilities. There are up to 80 offshore facilities and only a handful have been decommissioned,” he says.

“But procedures and standards for decommissioning are ambiguous. We’re striving to bring consistency and logic to the planning and decommissioning process, while keeping the industry up to date with the latest technologies and methods available.”

With often hundreds of millions of dollars provisioned to decommission a facility, the need to successfully navigate the minefield of legislation, regulation and opinion has never been more important.

 “Legislation calls for complete removal and rehabilitation,” Mr Marfatia says. “Literally, it means oil and gas companies must leave the title area how they received it.

"Complete removal is not always the best solution because new environmental research suggests that subsea equipment turned into an artificial reef or marine habitat may be beneficial to the environment. There is some evidence fish stocks improve around pipelines and infrastructure. So, the question is whether complete removal is really the best solution."

It’s a critical point, given that airlifting and excavation is often used for removal of equipment, but can significantly disturb seabeds and marine habitats, and remedial work must meet international maritime conventions to which Australia is a signatory.

The overall cost of decommissioning Australia’s fields is estimated at US$24 billion (AU$35 billion) over 30 years. With companies now required to have a decommissioning plan, Ajero developed software to independently assess each project efficiently at reduced cost using tested and validated algorithms.

Mr Marfatia combined his expertise as a project engineer with that of two former colleagues, Peter Walton, now Ajero’s managing director, and David McLeod, CFO/finance manager.

They targeted decommissioning work, reckoning that a digital platform could plough through the sea of regulatory and environmental issues faster and more efficiently than consulting hours. The digital technology provides the end user the ability to run through several decommissioning scenarios, while considering personnel safety and impact to the environment. Furthermore, the auto generated reports are immediately available to the user once the relevant information has been entered and agreed in a 'HAZID' style workshop. The report's format is consistent each time, which will help regulators reviewing the documents.

The result is an annual subscription service for Ajero software that can perform in-house, in one week, what usually takes an outsourced consultancy up to 18 weeks. The cost savings are significant.

“If an operator wants to leave some structures in place when decommissioning, there are questions," Mr Marfatia says. "What do they leave? What do they remove? And how likely is it to be accepted by the regulator? Ajero software platform can provide the solutions."

Aside from offshore oil and gas operators, Ajero has recently signed agreements with two global management consulting firms to explore the platform's use for the legal and insurance industries.

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