AIMS works with industry to provide independent, reliable information to support decision-making around the decommissioning of oil and gas infrastructure in Australian waters.
Australia’s oil and gas industry uses an extensive network of infrastructure at sea which allows the extraction and transportation of resources from below the seafloor. Around 6 000km of pipelines, 1 500km of umbilicals, 1000 subsea wells, 57 platforms, and approximately 500 other structures support a globally significant industry in Australia’s tropical north west and south east marine estates.
To remove or not to remove?
As operations move towards their end-of-field-life, decisions must be made as to the fate of wells, pipelines, platforms, and other structures at sea. Decommissioning options include leaving in place, complete removal, partial removal, toppling, relocation or transforming into an artificial reef.
Regulators and industry must decide how to best decommission these structures in a manner that minimises environmental impacts and risks to a level as low as reasonably practicable, in accordance with legislation.
AIMS research has shown oil and gas structures provide novel habitat for many marine species. However, there is uncertainty how the removal, partial removal, or other decommissioning scenarios may affect ecosystems present and their processes, such as connectivity.
AIMS research on decommissioning
AIMS science delivers the environmental knowledge and innovation required to drive sound decision-making for sustainable decommissioning of offshore oil and gas infrastructure. We work with global research partners to address common knowledge gaps, and undertake decommissioning marine research projects in Australia’s north-west and south-east.
Using innovative approaches such as enhanced ROV surveys, we investigate how marine life interacts with oil and gas structures at local and regional scales. Understanding this influence on marine life such as fish, and ecological connectivity in marine ecosystems is critical for informed regulatory and industry decisions on decommissioning.
Examples of such research include projects supported by the National Decommissioning Research Initiative.
AIMS’ industry partnerships: a win-win for building knowledge
AIMS-industry partnerships enable rigorous scientific data to be collected rapidly, without impeding on industry offshore operations. AIMS’ purpose-built stereo-video cameras and range of sensors and sampling equipment (eDNA) can be used to augment industry ROVs and collect scientific information around infrastructure. For example, AIMS has undertaken enhanced surveys of Santos platform jackets near Varanus Island, north-west Australia.
Partner with AIMS
We work in partnership with industry to undertake innovative research to understand the role and value of oil and gas structures in marine ecosystems. Our comprehensive decommissioning research is enabled by wide-ranging expertise, industrial-scale infrastructure, innovative technology and extensive national and international collaboration networks.
For more information:
- Contact Dr Dianne McLean
- Visit the National Decommissioning Research Initiative website to learn more about decommissioning research in Australia, and the AIMS-led projects:
- News: Additions to resource industry underwater robots can boost discoveries (April 16, 2020)