Oil platform decommissioning

In the next 7 years, 150 oil and gas platforms are expected to be decommissioned in the North Sea.[1,2] Annual global spending on decommissioning is set to increase from $2.4bn in 2015 to $13bn per year by 2040.[3] Given the complexity and uniqueness of each removal activity, firms earn new knowledge about environmental hazards on each operation. A shared knowledge base that details how to best address these risks will lead to more sustainable practices.

Upon the end of their life cycle, the surrounding area of oil and gas platforms are required to be returned to their “natural condition.”[4] However, current practices range from leaving structures in place, dismantling and removing them, the partial removal to a depth that does not interfere with other maritime activities, to sinking them to the bottom.[5] Further activities include plugging subsea wells, as well as pylon and pipeline removal. Firms have been reluctant to share their knowledge and practices, slowing the progress to smart and sustainable decommissioning.[5]

When will best practices for sustainable oil & gas platform decommissioning be shared across companies?

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[1] Fraser, D. (2016), North Sea could lose 150 platforms within 10 years
[2] International Association of Oil & Gas Producers (2017), Overview of International Offshore Decommissioning Regulations
[3] IHS Markit (2016), Decommissioning of Aging Offshore Oil and Gas Facilities Increasing Significantly, with Annual Spending Rising to $13 Billion by 2040, IHS Markit Says
[4] English, Y. (2019), Everything you need to know about offshore decommissioning
[5] Zawahi, N., Liew M., Na, K., (2012), Decommissioning of offshore platform: A sustainable framework
More information:
Impregilo S., (2016), An overview on the decommissioning process in the oil & gas sector
Bull, A., Love, M. (2019), Worldwide oil and gas platform decommissioning: A review of practices and reefing options
Oudenot, E., Whittaker, P., Vasquez, M. (2018), Preparing for the Next Wave of Offshore Decommissioning
DNV GL (2017), Towards smarter and greener decommissioning
Tarr, D. (2014), From exploration drilling to decommissioning: where does responsibility lie for regulating and monitoring offshore oil platforms in Liberian waters?

By Matthew J. Spaniol