A North Sea chief said today that UK taxpayers would side with industry ahead of green groups on the subject of decommissioning.
Mark Richardson, projects group manager at Apache North Sea, said there would be little environmental or economic benefit to removing all installations.
Mr Richardson also said taxpayers would share his opinion if they were made aware of how much it is going to cost the Treasury.
“Who benefits from decommissioning? It’s not the operators. It’s going to cost them a lot of money, so they don’t want to do it,” Mr Richardson said at the plenary session of Subsea Expo in Aberdeen.
“Government is not keen because there’s going to be a huge tax bill for them to pay.
“The supply chain will have a short term revenue stream, but once the assets are gone there is no further revenue stream.”
Mr Richardson said Brexit could provide an opportunity for the UK to break away from the rules of Ospar, a pan-European body which was set-up to protect the marine environment of the north-east Atlantic.
Ospar stipulates that installations must be removed in their entirety once they reach the end of their production cycle.
But Mr Richardson said studies increasingly indicated that marine life was thriving on oil and gas infrastructure and that a clean seabed was not the answer.
“Leaving infrastructure in place makes sense,” he said, adding: “If you ask Joe Public how much money would be saved from that I’m sure they would be interested.”
“We need to look again at the OSPAR regulations and decide what’s best for us.”