Nightmare in the North Sea: the off-shore platforms decommissioning
In short time UK shall face a hard task in the North Sea: decommissioning and de-mobilizing a lot of offshore platforms, quickly reaching obsolescence.
The OSPAR committee convention rules that the old platforms and infrastructures must be disassembled and transported on-shore.
This task is quite demanding and it shows by the numbers: No. 470 oil fields, 10,000 sq. km of oil pipelines and 5,000 oil wells are reaching the end of their expected life.
Another crucial number identifies the real dimension of the issue: 53 billion UK £ is the estimated budget for the decommissioning plan (24 billion are refundable to the UK’s taxpayers – Wood Mackenzie source) and the oil industry is already shaken by planning high investments that do not produce a direct income but only losses.
Prof. Tom Baxter of the Aberdeen University identifies this decom. plan as a major feat of the future, “A colossal engineering work” in his words, but an alternative plan is possible. In the GoM many oil companies chose a different solution: hundreds of platforms have been moved in shallow waters in order to transform them in a reef habitat for the sea life.
Tom Baxter suggests a “rig-to-reef” plan but with a crucial difference: the platforms will be cleaned, de-contaminated and put in a safe condition, but kept at their positions. This will induce huge savings in the British and oil companies economies.