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Oil and Gas Producers turn focus to decommissioning old offshore rigs

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The International Association of Oil and Gas Producers (OGP) has re-instated its Decommissioning Committee, in light of the fact that many of the over 5000 offshore oil rigs are nearing the end of their operating life.  A UK Decommissioning Conference was held in October, and during 2011 the OGP Committee “aims to establish programmes to study the environmental consequences of decommissioning and examine technology development, best practices and benchmarking.”

Certainly, given today’s increasing awareness of the effects of noise on marine life, it’s likely that environmental assessments of decommissioning activities will include consideration of their acoustic impacts.  Most likely, increased noise will be relatively short-duration (in the scale of weeks or months); in regions where multiple decommissioning projects are underway at once, there may need to be consideration of the cumulative impacts.

In the October issue of the OGP newsletter, the reinstatement of the Decommissioning Committee was noted as follows:

With more than 5,000 oil & gas structures offshore, many of which are coming to the end of their operational lives, decommissioning will become an important upstream activity in the years ahead. In recognition of this, OGPs Management Committee has given the go-ahead to reinstate the Decommissioning Committee. Under the leadership of Chair Gunther Newcombe of BP, the Committee will tackle the critical challenges to operators in terms of engineering capability, safety and environmental performance.

According to the Committees mission statement, it will take into account prevailing regulatory requirements whilst:

    • Identifying and addressing the engineering challenges of decommissioning
    • Identifying and sharing experiences and best technologies and practices associated with the removal, re-use and/or disposal of offshore infrastructure
    • Identifying cost-effective strategies for managing decommissioning projects through benchmarking
    • Advising OGP members on relevant regulatory developments that may have direct or indirect bearing on decommissioning
    • Liaising with other OGP committees on aspects of decommissioning relating to safety and environmental performance

During 2011, its first full year of operation, the Committee aims to establish programmes to study the environmental consequences of decommissioning and examine technology development, best practices and benchmarking.

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