Oil and gas decommissioning as a catalyst to enhance ecosystem function

Recently a project started that by bringing stakeholders around the North Sea together, aims to instigate a fundamental review and subsequent change of policy in determining the interaction between people, planet and prosperity in the region.

The objective is to achieve a healthy marine ecosystem as the basis of economic services and products. Science, business, politics and civil society can work together to protect and benefit from the beauty, abundance and wealth of the North Sea. This requires an innovative approach, where value is created from a shared vision. Those who need to adapt their behaviour to secure their own long-term prosperity will be supported by those who, by judicious compromise, are able to help them.

Since the early 1970´s one of the major sources of energy and wealth in the North Sea has been the oil and gas industry. Oil and gas companies and governments have reserved billions of Euros for the mandatory decommissioning of offshore production facilities once their productive lives are over, with only a very few possible exceptions. The implicit rationale of this current practice is that removing offshore installations to shore for dismantling and waste handling is the best option both for the environment and from a health and safety perspective. The project takes a closer look at this assumption from an ecosystem perspective and explores more economic alternatives with comparable or less impact on the North Sea ecosystem.

The project view is that money saved by changing current practice could be used to fund changes in other areas that would bring substantial benefits to the North Sea and its surrounding populations.
Lastly, the project will ensure that benefits in the North Sea region will not be at the expense of impacts elsewhere (e.g. a shift of unsustainable fishery towards the Atlantic).

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