The INSITE Programme was conceived in 2012 to produce independent science leading to a greater understanding of the influence of man-made structures on the North Sea ecosystem.
Adeptly managed by Richard Heard, INSITE are delivering on their prime objective.
The Journal of Marine Science recently published a paper “Science in support of ecologically sound decommissioning strategies for offshore man-made structures: taking stock of current knowledge and considering future challenges” where the work of INSITE is acknowledged.
I am now going to be a curmudgeon – why do all this good science when the findings cannot be used?
The OSPAR Commission regulations has a limited set of derogations that, to my mind, effectively precludes using scientific evidence to justify using decommissioned oil and gas structures as a benefit to the marine environment.
Indeed, as referenced in BEIS’s Decommissioning Guidance Notes, OSPAR seeks to further limit derogations as demonstrated in the following comment – “the Commission shall endeavour to achieve unanimous support for amendments to that Annex in order to reduce the scope of possible derogations”.
As pointed out by the National Audit Office, Oil and Gas Decommissioning will cost the UK taxpayer around £24 billion from legitimate rebates and taxes foregone.
I ask as a taxpayer, has the UK Government any plans to use all this good science to renegotiate with the OSPAR Commission to allow for re-purposing oil and gas architecture as a benefit to the marine environment?
Tom Baxter is visiting professor of chemical engineering at Strathclyde University and a retired technical director at Genesis Oil and Gas Consultants