At the end of an oil & gas field life the structures have to be decommissioned and, in the main, most of these will be completely removed. However, in some instances authorisation may be given to leave remains on the seabed.
At the first Ministerial Meeting of the OSPAR Commission
(Commission for the Protection of
the Marine Environment of the North East Atlantic) in 1998, a binding Decision was agreed which set the rules to be applied to the disposal of offshore installations at sea. Under the Decision, there is a prohibition on the dumping and leaving wholly or partly in place of offshore installations. The Decision recognised that there may be difficulty in removing the 'footings' of large steel jackets weighing more than 10,000 tonnes and in removing concrete installations. As a result there are derogations for these categories of installations if the internationally agreed assessment and consultation process shows that leaving these in place is justifiable.
Obligations to monitor the residues associated with the decommissioning of a specific structure may be defined in a decommissioning programme. While FLTC and FLTCS will have no legal obligation to monitor decommissioned structures the Companies will consider what actions they may take to monitor such structures in the long term to ensure that any wider Legacy Issues will be addressed and in particular, their potential impact on the fishing industry.
The long-term operational/financial model relies upon securing endowment contributions from all those companies which leave a legacy following the completion of a DECC approved decommissioning programme and managing funds effectively to ensure secure returns into the long-term. It is intended that the endowment capital is not expended, but that operating revenue is generated from the investment of this fund.