CSA Ocean Sciences Inc. (CSA) has provided marine environmental expertise to clients in the U.S. and internationally for more than 53 years, including the assessment of potential impacts, identification of viable mitigation methods, and the design and implementation of monitoring programs for offshore oil, gas, and wind projects. CSA’s expertise spans the life of field of offshore energy projects, from exploration and development, through production, and decommissioning phases.
Mr. Brian Balcom, Senior Scientist with CSA, recently co-authored a published paper, Offshore decommissioning horizon scan: Research priorities to support decision-making activities for oil and gas infrastructure, which assessed and prioritized research needs to further inform decommissioning decisions, while advancing our understanding of the potential impacts associated with the decommissioning process.
Applicable to all aspects of offshore energy infrastructure, an interdisciplinary team consisting of 35 global experts identified priority research needs associated with the decommissioning process and available removal options: 1) full removal followed by onshore re-use, recycling, or disposal; 2) partial removal, split between onshore and relocation offshore for disposal or re-use; or 3) partial removal, split between onshore and in situ decommissioning for disposal or re-purposing.
Experts were selected based on their publication of relevant decommissioning articles; the extent of their relevant work within academia, industry, or a relevant competent authority; or substantial involvement with an international industry association specializing in decommissioning.
Findings identified the highest research priorities, including: 1) assessment of contaminant-related impacts and their acceptable environmental limits to reduce potential for ecological harm; 2) defining risk and acceptability thresholds in policy/governance; 3) characterizing liability issues of ongoing costs and responsibility; and 4) quantification of impacts from decommissioning to ecosystem services.
Other priorities identified included quantifying ecological connectivity; assessing marine life productivity; determining feasibility of infrastructure re-use; identification of stakeholder views and values; quantification of greenhouse gas emissions; and developing a transdisciplinary decommissioning decision-making process.
The paper sketches a roadmap for future decommissioning research, effectively presenting a consensus among global experts regarding recommendations to further inform decommissioning decision-making. While the paper provides a starting point for needed research, a fundamental challenge will be funding and executing the complex, transdisciplinary research needed. Read the peer-reviewed journal article, published in Science of the Total Environment.
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