Skip to content

The decommissioning partnership to revolutionise subsea cutting


The next phase of the partnership planned for 2023-24 involves the development of the UWLC system targeted at delivering a cutting tool suitable for a real offshore cutting scope. This again benefits from Net Zero Technology Centre funding and involves the same project partners along with in-kind contribution from a Tier 1 oil and gas producer and vessel operator.

Phase two will include:

  • A selection of a suitable cutting opportunity through engagement with our project partners and participants
  • Development of the laser cutting head through the incorporation of lessons learned from Phase 1
  • Development of a cutting tool to manipulate the laser cutting head to suit the cutting scope
  • Integration of the Human Machine Interface (HMI) and electronic control from Phase 1 into the intelligent cutting tool to optimise cutting head manipulation and performance.

Subsea cutting offshore wide angle

Measuring success

Phase 2 success will be measured by performance on an actual offshore cutting scope where the cutting performance will be measured against typical mechanical or abrasive cutting solutions.

The objective is to demonstrate the system as a proven cutting technology for suitable applications, with the system being verified at technology readiness level 7 and suitable for further commercialisation.


UWLC has been proven feasible for the downsizing of underwater stored radiated components for repackaging the cut components for future processing or storage. During Summer 2022, Claxton performed a client-funded desktop feasibility study along with an extensive test programme performed at the National Decommissioning Centre.

The underwater cutting trials demonstrated the efficiency of the technology in cutting the client’s targeted 75mm thick stainless steel. During the trials, cutting was also performed on 25mm thick stainless steel in preparation for the thicker material cutting trials. During the severance of the 25mm material cutting speeds of 300mm/min was achieved, which is the fastest the test arrangement can currently travel. Further optimisation of the cutting speed has the potential to allow faster cutting speeds.


Opportunities we see that would benefit from laser cutting, as opposed to traditional methods such as water jet or diamond wire cutting, include: single wall pile cuts, jacket or infrastructure downsizing for recovery, and waste size reduction for storage.

The benefits of UWLC:
  • Cuts both from outside-in and inside-out of a structure
  • Safer, cheaper, and faster than conventional cutting methods
  • Cutting technology proven feasible for Nuclear Decommissioning underwater downsizing tasks
  • Opportunity to vastly reduce time required to perform on site downsizing cutting programme
  • Smaller back deck footprint and reduced power consumption and consumables

Subsea cutting tools

“It is fantastic to be involved in such a great partnership and work with an inspiring team on this development project. The commitment from all partners builds on Claxton’s drive to bring innovative decommissioning solutions to the market. The technology is showing great promise in delivering cross sector decommissioning work scopes. I am looking forward to delivering an offshore decommissioning work scope through 2023 with a view to commercialising the technology and opening it up as a cutting solution available to the oil and gas, nuclear and offshore wind decommissioning market,” said Craig Baxter – Decommissioning Technical Manager, Claxton

“It has been great to work with Claxton, with the funding from the NZTC, to take work which we started several years ago as bench top experiments to a near market tool. Being able to deploy the underwater laser cutter in a realistic offshore environment at Kishorn and have it perform so well was a testament to the capability of the partnership. We look forward to continuing the relationship with Claxton in developing the system to a commercial tool, ” said Professor Richard Neilson – Centre Director, The National Decommissioning Centre


Access exclusive content


Reduce the cost and complexity of removing marine infrastructure

At Acteon, we solve customers’ challenges using value engineering to support the transition to clean energy. Join our network to access our exclusive content and be the first to know about new technologies, innovations and events.

button button--hs-download Access now