Decommissioning of offshore oil and gas facilities: a comparative assessment of different scenarios

J Environ Manage. 2006 Jun;79(4):420-38. doi: 10.1016/j.jenvman.2005.08.023. Epub 2005 Dec 20.


A material and energy flow analysis, with corresponding financial flows, was carried out for different decommissioning scenarios for the different elements of an offshore oil and gas structure. A comparative assessment was made of the non-financial (especially environmental) outcomes of the different scenarios, with the reference scenario being to leave all structures in situ, while other scenarios envisaged leaving them on the seabed or removing them to shore for recycling and disposal. The costs of each scenario, when compared with the reference scenario, give an implicit valuation of the non-financial outcomes (e.g. environmental improvements), should that scenario be adopted by society. The paper concludes that it is not clear that the removal of the topsides and jackets of large steel structures to shore, as currently required by regulations, is environmentally justified; that concrete structures should certainly be left in place; and that leaving footings, cuttings and pipelines in place, with subsequent monitoring, would also be justified unless very large values were placed by society on a clear seabed and trawling access.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Conservation of Natural Resources
  • Environmental Monitoring
  • Petroleum*


  • Petroleum