As someone who has been canvassing for a UK rigs to reefs initiative for many years, I was pleased to see the topic raised on a number of occasions at the recent Aberdeen, Offshore Europe conference.
I noted that Andy Samuel, the OGA’s CEO, a key industry spokesman, also mentioned rigs to reefs.
A welcome comment, however, I noted that he stated that he ‘is yet to see a coherent science based approach to its viability’. That got me wondering who would put together a coherent, science based approach.
Against a background of many marine ecosystem experts, including the Scottish Wildlife Trust, arguing the case for rigs to reefs, who would benefit from it?
Not those in the supply chain providing removal services. Rigs to reefs would reduce work scopes – thus, who in the supply chain would have an incentive to put together the required coherent, science based approach?
Would the Oil and Gas Companies benefit from rigs to reefs? The O&G companies could certainly benefit financially but I am not convinced many Operators would be prepared to propose rigs to reefs. That is, to leave clean architecture in place as a benefit to the marine ecosystem. Operators would be vey concerned for their reputation if they proposed such an option. It is not allowed under current marine legislation and despite evidence to the contrary, it would be seen by many as that dirty industry trying to wriggle out of its obligations. Brent Spar springs to mind.
Operators would be much more inclined to investigate rigs to reefs if it were permitted by legislation, particularly OSPAR. It is very interesting to note that Australia allows for repurposing as a benefit to the marine environment. Indeed, an Australian rigs to reefs scheme has been nominated for an environmental award. The USA and Malaysia also implement rigs to reefs.
For rigs to reefs to be deployed in the UK, it is obvious that legislation has to change. In order for legislation to be changed the evidence has to be provided to support change. Work has to conducted to show whether or not marine legislation is serving the UK taxpayer – the largest stakeholder in decommissioning. That is, to investigate whether legislation is serving the UK from an environmental, societal and economic standpoint. Is the supply chain or the O&G operators going to undertake such an analysis – I don’t think so?
Who then should conduct such a study? It is clear to me that the government, through its agencies (BEIS, OGA, OPRED), should undertake such an investigation on behalf of the taxpayer.
Is it not incumbent upon the OGA to recommend that HMG commissions a ‘coherent, science based’ analysis?