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Report Sheds Light on Reality of a Decarbonised Decom

Decom North Sea (DNS) has collaborated with academics at Edinburgh Business School Heriot-Watt University to publish a report investigating the prevalence of reuse and a circular economy within decommissioning and recovery of offshore platforms based on the UKCS.

Launched at a joint DNS/SPE event entitled “Decarbonising Decom: the next generation’s perspective” the report indicates a much lower decommissioning recycle rate than previously thought – what it coins “The 95% recycling myth” – with the majority of recycling statistics related to steel only. The report finds that overall ‘sent-to-recycling’ rates in decommissioning (encompassing the whole platform and structure weight) are usually less than 65%, and as little as 5% in some cases.

The report also highlights the environmental impact associated with overseas recycling of decommissioning assets and recommends that domestic decommissioning and an increasingly circular system have the potential to mitigate those negative effects.

Funded by the Scottish Institute for Remanufacturing with Prof Umit Bititci as the principal investigator, the report was authored by Edinburgh Business School researcher, Melissa Marques, in collaboration with academic colleagues, Aberdeen-based subsea engineering experts J&S Subsea and Decom North Sea. Ms Marques drew upon her research of the circular economy and the value reuse can bring to companies when compiling data from across the decommissioning supply chain, industry regulators and a major operator.

Commenting on the team’s findings, Ms Marques said: “The purpose of this research was two-fold: firstly, to provide greater clarity on the overall percentage of recycling activity within the offshore decommissioning sector, and the environmental impact this has.

“Secondly, having analysed UKCS decommissioning practice, we are in a position to identify barriers to an increased uptake in reuse, with several recommendations for the operator community, supply chain and wider industries to consider as the journey towards decarbonisation gathers pace.”

Pamela Ogilvie, Business Development Director at DNS adds: “Since Decom North Sea established in 2010, the circular economy has been central to our ethos, with a work group dedicated to its promotion early on in our journey. We remain as dedicated to the circular economy as ever, and look forward to developing the challenges and findings of this report further via our Decommissioning Leadership Group’s Reuse SIG.”

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