Decommissioning of offshore infrastructure has become a major issue facing the global offshore energy industry. In the North Sea alone, the decommissioning liability is estimated at £40 billion by 2040. Current Oslo and Paris Convention (OSPAR) international policy, specifically Decision OSPAR 98/3 requires removal of most offshore infrastructure at the end of operational lifetime; however, this policy is being questioned, as emerging data reveal importance of these structures to marine life.
Last week the OSPAR Commission met to discuss a variety of items on the decommissioning agenda, but do we truly know that the impact will be of removing 1000s of these structures across the world’s oceans?
A group of scientists have been wondering just that, including our very own Dr. Victoria Todd. A panel of experts in the field and have dedicated years of their lives investigating impacts of offshore installations on marine life, ranging from bivalves up to marine mammals, including everything in between.
Dr. Todd was an author on Upon release of the article: Environmental benefits of leaving offshore infrastructure in place, Frontiers. 94.7% of the experts agreed from their findings a more flexible case-case approach needs to be considered, rather than a blanket policy. The best outcomes came from partial removal options compared to complete removal.
They key considerations taken into account were; biodiversity enhancement, provision of reef habitat, and protection from bottom trawling all which are found to be affected negatively from complete removal.
The recommendation to the OSPAR COMMISSION is the following; a revision of the current offshore decommissioning policy, including a temporary suspension on obligatory removal.
This is not to take the burden away from oil and gas, but fully an environmental move.
Also take a look at the other articles written in light of the Frontiers Publication; https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-44726346v & https://www.facebook.com/BureauOfOceanEnergyManagement/