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 structures or infrastructure in situ 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 derogations for these categories of installations may be granted if the internationally agreed assessment and consultation process shows that leaving them 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.
It is intended that once the Endowment Fund has reached the appropriate level, the endowment capital will not be expended and that revenue to fund operating costs will be generated from investment returns from the Fund.