EMIDOI comes on streamNews // June 29, 2001
Around the world there are more than 7.000 offshore oil & gas installations in place, many of which will be decommissioned in the coming years and decades. Furthermore, several thousand kilometres of pipelines will probably need to be removed, trenched or covered.
This will present Europe with both a major challenge from an environmental and technological perspective and a potential opportunity from an industrial and economical perspective. Over the next 10-20 years in European seas, an average of 15-25 installations are expected to be abandoned annually.
This represents, amongst other materials 150,000-200,000 tonnes of steel per year. The continental shelf bordering the states of the European Community and Norway has more than 600 offshore oil and gas platforms, more than 430 subsea structures and morethan 600 subsea wellheads.
In 1998 in Sintra, Portugal, the members of the OSPAR Commission for the Protection of the Marine Environment of the North East Atlantic and the European Commission agreed on OSPAR decision 98/3 on the Disposal of Disused Offshore Installations, which went into force on 9 February 1999.
Re-use, recycling or final disposal on land is the preferred option for the decommissioning of offshore installations in the maritime area. Therefore the ministers agreed that dumping and abandonment wholly or partly in place, of disused offshore installations within the maritime area is prohibited. However alternative disposal, which involves leaving all or part of the installation in place, may be acceptable and the competent authority of the relevant OSPAR member country may issue a permit for alternative disposal under certain conditions.
To obtain a permit for alternative disposal, an Environmental Impact Assessment must be performed, which satisfies the competent authority of the relevant OSPAR member country, and which shows that there are significant reasons why an alternative disposal is preferable to re-use, recycling, or final disposal on land. Consultation with other OSPAR members is also a requirement.
The information collated in the assessment must be sufficiently comprehensive to enable a reasoned judgement on the practicability of each of the disposal options, and to allow for an authoritative comparative evaluation.
Decommissioning of offshore installations will provide a major challenge for public authorities and oil & gas operators from an environmental and technological perspective. In the case of alternative disposal being an option it will be a major challengefor authorities and oil & gas operators to defend their decision to the general public and environmental protections. At the same time it also provides a challenging opportunity for industries such as engineers, contractors, recycling companies, oil & gas companies, and environmental managers, to seek sustainable and economically feasible solutions and to apply new technologies for safeguarding the vulnerable marine environment. Decommissioning therefore provides new business opportunities for suppliersto the oil and gas industry.
To support these challenges from all perspectives and for all interested parties from the oil & gas industry, public authorities, regulatory bodies, contractors, and the general public, there is a great need for exchange of data & information covering the relevant subjects.
The principal partners in the project are: MARIS (Marine Information Service) BV in the Netherlands; Oilfield Publications Ltd - OPL in the UK; Atlast in the Netherlands; the British Geological Survey; and the Norges Geologiske Undersoekelse - NGU in Norway.
The EMIDOI project being undertaken within the framework of the eContent programme of the European Commission, Directorate-General Information Society as a Preparatory Action.