Environmental benefits of leaving offshore infrastructure in the ocean

Journal Article

Title: Environmental benefits of leaving offshore infrastructure in the ocean
Publication Date:
July 03, 2018
Journal: Frontiers in Ecology and Environment
Volume: 16
Issue: 10
Pages: 571-578
Publisher: The Ecological Society of America

Document Access

Website: External Link


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.

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.

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