As it is Decom Week, I was prompted to re-visit whether OPRED had delivered on their commitment to provide a report on the applicability of rigs-to-reefs in UK waters.
The Scottish Affairs Committee on the Future of Oil and Gas, chaired by Pete Wishart, MP, recommended – “Paragraph 73: While all parties want the same outcome, to decommission in a way that minimises the harm to the environment, there is clearly genuine disagreement about what policy on the removal of disused rigs will best deliver this. We recommend that OPRED lead discussions with industry, environmental groups, academics and other stakeholders to establish a common evidence base to allow an agreed solution to be found. OPRED should also work with the sector to better explain what is already possible under the current system.”
On the 7th May, 2019 Pete Wishart MP, wrote to the then Minister for Energy and Clean Growth, Chris Skidmore, MP seeking clarification on progress related to the committee’s recommendations.
The BEIS response to Paragraph 73 was – “We are also planning an open dialogue with stakeholders, including other government departments, NGOs, academia and nature conservationists to gather views and evidence around proposals for rigs to reef (re-using offshore oil and gas infrastructure to create artificial reefs that minimise harm to the environment). A project is being set up to review the current evidence on the environmental advantages and disadvantages of the rigs to reef concept, establishing a common evidence base. The project is expected to take six to nine months, at which point OPRED will present the recommendations from the project team.”
Here we are two years on and, so far as I can gather, still no OPRED report. Against an ever-growing evidence base as to the benefits of man-made structures to the marine environment, and the role of the UK taxpayer in supporting decommissioning activities, the UK has so much to gain from rigs to reefs. The reporting delay is very disappointing.