Decommissioning Insight 2017


4.5 Onshore Recycling and Final Disposal

Onshore recycling and disposal includes activities related to the cleaning and handling of hazardous waste, deconstruction, reuse, recycling, disposal and waste management.

Preferred processes to deal with offshore structures that are no longer in use follow the hierarchy of reuse, recycling and onshore disposal. Once the structures are onshore, disassembling and processing takes place on specialist licensed sites. Operators have a duty to monitor all waste generated offshore and its handling and disposal through an environmental management system 15 . Transporting topsides and substructures to shore is the most visible and obvious aspect of decommissioning, yet onshore dismantling represents less than 2 per cent (£279 million) of the estimated total UKCS decommissioning expenditure to 2025. Lifting and transportation costs can be significant compared to those of onshore dismantling. This is due to the cost of equipment required and the distances to travel. Therefore, the location of onshore dismantling yards relative to offshore structures, as well as the yards’ ability to receive the largest offshore lifting vessels, are important factors in developing competitive bids for work. Twenty-seven per cent (383,497 tonnes) will come from the central North Sea, 21 per cent (304,351 tonnes) from the northern North Sea and west of Shetland, 17 per cent (240,936 tonnes) from the Norwegian Continental Shelf, 14 per cent from the Dutch Continental Shelf (205,552 tonnes) 11 per cent from the southern North Sea and Irish Sea (152,511 tonnes) and ten per cent from the Danish Continental Shelf (134,794 tonnes). 4.6 Site Remediation and Long-Term Monitoring Site remediation includes cuttings piles management, debris clearance and over-trawl surveys. Over-trawl surveys ensure the seabed is safe for normal fishing activities to resume. Long-term monitoring is the very final stage of decommissioning, where operators carry out surveys on the site after decommissioning has been completed and continue to monitor the site based on an agreed programme with regulators. Just over 1.4 million tonnes of offshore infrastructure are expected to be brought onshore for recycling and final disposal from the North Sea to 2025.

In the UK, estimated expenditure for these activities from 2017 to 2025 is £208 million.

15 See Oil & Gas UK’s Environment Report at


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