Report: North sea oil and gas rig decommissioning and re-use opportunity

Report 1 Comments

  • Circular economy
  • Sustainability

The Oil & Gas (O&G) industry is a key economic sector in Scotland, and studies have identified that it has significant circular economy opportunities associated with the decommissioning of its assets.

The total value of this decommissioning across the North Sea to 2040 is estimated to be £46bn, with 40 platforms being decommissioned by 2017. Currently the majority of the materials and equipment from these platforms is recycled, with very little re-use or remanufacturing. However, the potential value inherent in re-use of these assets has been shown to be significantly higher than recycling. So how can this value be realised?

The Great Recovery takes a unique, hands on and design-focused approach to the circular economy. In this project, along with our delivery partner Useful Simple Projects, we have worked with Zero Waste Scotland to investigate the opportunities for increasing levels of re-use in the North Sea O&G decommissioning sector.

This report presents our approach to and results of this project, which forms part of a wider programme of work between the RSA Great Recovery and Zero Waste Scotland to help accelerate Scotland’s transition towards a circular economy.

Having initially conducted an interim study on the opportunities for the sector (also included within this report), this second stage of the project identifies materials, components and equipment from O&G platforms that could be re-used or reconditioned at the end of their life. In addition it lays out proposals for feasibility studies to help accelerate the move towards a circular economy and an increase in re-use or reconditioning over recycling within the sector. We have also made some recommendations which seek to increase the chances of the enhanced value being retained in the UK.

On the release of the report at the Scottish Resources Conference Sophie Thomas, Director of Circular Economy at the RSA, said:

“The RSA Great Recovery has been working closely with Zero Waste Scotland to identity opportunities where a more circular approach could bring increased opportunity and value into sectors. This report is the first publication from this collaboration. By working with key stakeholders in the circular network we have developed a series of recommendations that are based on practical auditing and cross sector business creation. There is untapped value and great opportunity for Scotland to develop a world-class circular industry around oil and gas rig decommissioning."


The Great Recovery project


Picture of Sophie Thomas
Former Director of Circular Economy

Picture of Ed McCann
Ed McCann
Director, Useful Simple Projects

Picture of Dan Epstein
Dan Epstein
Director of Sustainability, Useful Simple Projects

Picture of Jo Carris
Jo Carris
Senior Consultant, Useful Simple Projects

Picture of Kell Jones
Kell Jones
Researcher, Useful Simple Projects

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  • Excellent report. 

    To re-use oil contaminated waste stream, BioRecycling has a potential to produce high value or value added products. Please have a look at our DEFRA funded project.

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