The removal of thousands of structures associated with oil and gas development from the world’s oceans is well underway, yet the environmental impacts of this decommissioning practice remain unknown. Similar impacts will be associated with the eventual removal of offshore wind turbines. We conducted a global survey of environmental experts to guide best decommissioning practices in the North Sea, a region with a substantial removal burden. In contrast to current regulations, 94.7% of experts (36 out of 38) agreed that a more flexible case-by-case approach to decommissioning could benefit the North Sea environment. Partial removal options were considered to deliver better environmental outcomes than complete removal for platforms, but both approaches were equally supported for wind turbines. Key considerations identified for decommissioning were biodiversity enhancement, provision of reef habitat, and protection from bottom trawling, all of which are negatively affected by complete removal. We provide recommendations to guide the revision of offshore decommissioning policy, including a temporary suspension of obligatory removal.
Environmental benefits of leaving offshore infrastructure in the ocean
Title: Environmental benefits of leaving offshore infrastructure in the ocean
July 03, 2018
Journal: Frontiers in Ecology and Environment
Publisher: The Ecological Society of America
University of Technology Sydney, North Sea Futures, Technical University of Denmark (DTU), Deakin University, National Oceanography Centre (NOC), Deltares (NL), Royal Belgian Institute of Natural Sciences (RBINS), Blue Latitudes LLC, California Polytechnic State University Pomona, Uni Research AS, University of Gothenburg, Tarleton State University, PANGALIA Environmental, The Citadel Hill Laboratory, Wageningen University and Research Centre, Royal Netherlands Institute for Sea Research (NIOZ), World Maritime University, Norwegian Institute for Nature Research (NINA), Institute of Marine Research (IMR), University of Oslo, Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM), Aarhus University, Ocean Science Consulting, Solent University, Flanders Research Institute for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food (IVLO)
Fowler, A.; Jørgensen, A.; Svendsen, J.; Macreadie, P.; Jones, D.; Boon, A.; Booth, D.; Brabant, R.; Callahan, E.; Claisse, J.; Dahlgren, T.; Degraer, S.; Dokken, Q.; Gill, A.; Johns, D.; Leewis, R.; Lindeboom, H.; Linden, O.; May, R.; Murk, A.; Ottersen, G.; Schroeder, D.; Shastri, S.; Teilmann, J.; Todd, V.; Van Hoey, G.; Vanaverbeke, J.; Coolen, J. (2018). Environmental benefits of leaving offshore infrastructure in the ocean. Frontiers in Ecology and Environment, 16(10), 571-578.