Automation of Marine Growth Analysis for Decommissioning Offshore Installations

Lead Research Organisation: University of Aberdeen
Department Name: Inst of Biological and Environmental Sci

Abstract

Permanent offshore structures form artificial reefs which provide attachment and settlement sites for marine organisms. In the UK, some of the oldest platforms have been in the water for over 40 years and have considerable colonisation of marine organisms. Marine Growth organisms generally include seaweeds, soft corals and mussels in the areas where light penetrates(photic zone) as well as anemones, hydroids and cold-water corals on the deeper sections of the platforms.

One of the first marine growth studies published was on the Montrose platform back in 1982; and significant discoveries have been made during offshore installation marine growth assessments since then, such as the first discovery of the CITES Listed Lophelia pertusa coral growing on offshore platforms during the decommissioning of the Brent Spar storage buoy, the with results subsequently being published in Nature in 1999. L. pertusa as since been recorded on the majority of northern North Sea platforms - and therefore their presence on the structures may be contributing to the connectivity of the protect reefs in the UK and Norway.

Marine growth causes issues for the oil and gas industry (operators) by adding additional weight to the structure which may cause damage and impair visual inspection of important equipment, both in routine and decommissioning scenarios. New areas of interest have also developed around platform marine growth, including the potential for marine invasive species, potential "stepping stone" habitats, artificial reefs for conservation (e.g. de-facto MPAs) or fish using the structures for food and shelter. In areas of the Gulf of Mexico, a "rigs-to-reef programme", (the conversion of offshore platforms into designated artificial reefs) is underway. However, in Europe, particularly in the North East Atlantic OSPAR region, there is a requirement to remove all offshore infrastructures from the seabed (although derogations may be granted). As part of the decommissioning plan, an operator may be required to assess the extent of marine growth on a platform to determine the additional weight added to the platform (for structure removal) or for potential organic waste disposal and especially if species of conservation importance (e.g. Lophelia and Sabellaria) are present.

This project will use a pre-devolved method (CoralNet) to analysis images of marine growth on offshore structures. The method will allow for more images to be analysed, compared to traditional assessment methodology and will allow for a more consistent approach, potentially providing for a good long-term monitoring tool. In addition, finding new and innovative monitoring methods, is not only about collecting data in the field, but also about how the data should be analysed, with this project will contribute.

Planned Impact

This project will aim to address impacts (outlined above) of marine growth by utilising a method for the automated analysis of marine growth on offshore installations using the method developed through the CoralNet project.

The project partners (BP, DECC and Scripps institute of Oceanography, San Diego) and the project advisor/sub-contractor (BMT Cordah Ltd)have been involved throughout the proposal stage, and will continue to be involved in the project through the provision of data and survey footage, and support for method training and assessment. The project addresses issues that are relevant and timely to environmental assessment of offshore decommissioning, both in the UK and globally. The method proposed in this project is critical to help develop our knowledge related to the derogations for leaving in place as stipulated under the OSPAR regulations.

The project offers a number of benefit to the business for not only the operators currently undertaking (and thinking about) decommissioning, but also the regulators and research community. It will contribute to the development of a potential long-term monitoring strategy of decommissioning and decommissioned structures. Furthermore, the method offers an efficient and consistent assessment approach allowing for comparative assessment - something the industry and academia are keen to promote through the availability of environmental data. It is felt throughout the industry that thus us still a lack of scientific understanding about how these offshore structures contribute to the environment once decommissioned (if derogations to leave part of the structure are in place, or how the environment is impacted upon complete removal); and their overall contribution to ecosystem function and services offshore. It is hoped that this type of study will contribute to the determination of the extent of their environmental benefit. It would also be hoped that a study of this nature could expand beyond the initial scoping study to provide evidence to regulators and policy makers such as DECC and OSPAR, with the aim to support regulation change and development and long-term monitoring.

Publications

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Gormley K (2018) Automated Image Analysis of Offshore Infrastructure Marine Biofouling in Journal of Marine Science and Engineering

 
Description The project had 4 aims: (i) train the CoralNet automated species identification software to identify the main marine biofouling organisms on UK oil and gas platform; (ii) to test the software performance on 3 platforms under 3 different analysis criteria (methods A-C); (iii) calculate the percentage cover of marine biofouling organisms and (iv) provide recommendations to industry on how best to collect marine biofouling footage, and use the automated analysis software.
Following software training with 857 images, and testing of three platforms, results showed that diversity of the three platforms ranged from low (in the central North Sea) to moderate (in the northern North Sea). The two central North Sea platforms were dominated by the plumose anemone Metridium dianthus; and the northern North Sea platform showed less obvious species domination - as would be expected.
It was considered that the software performed well for the classification of the main fouling species in the North Sea. Overall, the study showed that the use of automated image analysis software may enable a more efficient and consistent approach to marine biofouling analysis on offshore structures; enabling the collection of environmental data for decommissioning and other operational industries.
Lunch and learn sessions were held with 2 survey companies and the project partner (operator). The use of the software was demonstrated, and participants were encouraged to have a go themselves. Following discussions with the potential end users, a list of recommendations were drawn up for the use the software and collection of footage. These, along with the results were published in the Journal of Marine Science and Engineering. The recommendations were also distributed to a number of operators, to try and encourage them to collect footage in a more useful manner. It is still the intention to write an article for an industry publication/magazine to outline these recommendations to a wider audience.
Exploitation Route The analysis results produced in this project were utilised by one of the INSITE projects run by CEFAS.
Operators that have been issued with the recommendations have said that they will implement the collection protocol in their next round of surveying. It is hoped that additional funding will be sort to enable the release of the training data from this project (through the software) to enable any operators or survey companies to analyse data using the software.
Due to confidentiality agreements in place for the data that was used for training and testing of the software, it is not currently available to a wider audience. If additional funding is sort, we can work with the software owners/developers to allow access to trained data, without actually releasing any data.
Sectors Digital/Communication/Information Technologies (including Software),Education,Electronics,Energy,Environment

URL http://www.bmtcordah.com/news/article/home/156704/bmt-cordah-published-in-jmse
 
Description The main use of the project outputs to date has been the use of the industry recommendations for the collection of marine biofouling survey footage. From discussions with the survey companies, there were no restrictions on what they could apply to the survey techniques in order to make the data more user friendly from an analysis point of view. We are awaiting to see how this new footage will be compare to the original footage. As outlined previously, we would require additional funding to work with the software developer to develop a method of making training data available to other projects. At present we are bound by confidentiality agreements, and are there not able to share the data more widely
First Year Of Impact 2016
Sector Digital/Communication/Information Technologies (including Software),Energy,Environment,Manufacturing, including Industrial Biotechology
Impact Types Economic

 
Description Society of Underwater Technology - Decommissioning working group 
Organisation BP (British Petroleum)
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Private 
PI Contribution Member of steering group, responsible for contributing to meetings and helping organise the MASTS/SUT Decommissioning Workshop held at the MASTS ASM in October 2016. Helped organise and chair session at the October 2017 workshop. Contacting invited speakers, reviewing abstracts, undertaking workshop administration. Currently planning sessions for the 2018 workshop.
Collaborator Contribution To use the combined expertise from marine salvage, oil & gas decommissioning and marine science to influence, educate and unlock solutions to wreck removal and offshore energy challenges and opportunities. Three broad themes have been identified and will be met through delivery of the following activities: 1. Put forward a proposed programme for the annual MASTS/SUT Workshop on Decommissioning and Wreck Removal. 2. Identify other initiatives appropriate for the Work Group/SDC to support. 3. Share information on related / complimentary initiatives across industry.
Impact MASTS/SUT Decommissioning Workshop - October 2016; MASTS/SUT Decommissioning Workshop - October 2017.
Start Year 2016
 
Description Society of Underwater Technology - Decommissioning working group 
Organisation Decom North Sea
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Charity/Non Profit 
PI Contribution Member of steering group, responsible for contributing to meetings and helping organise the MASTS/SUT Decommissioning Workshop held at the MASTS ASM in October 2016. Helped organise and chair session at the October 2017 workshop. Contacting invited speakers, reviewing abstracts, undertaking workshop administration. Currently planning sessions for the 2018 workshop.
Collaborator Contribution To use the combined expertise from marine salvage, oil & gas decommissioning and marine science to influence, educate and unlock solutions to wreck removal and offshore energy challenges and opportunities. Three broad themes have been identified and will be met through delivery of the following activities: 1. Put forward a proposed programme for the annual MASTS/SUT Workshop on Decommissioning and Wreck Removal. 2. Identify other initiatives appropriate for the Work Group/SDC to support. 3. Share information on related / complimentary initiatives across industry.
Impact MASTS/SUT Decommissioning Workshop - October 2016; MASTS/SUT Decommissioning Workshop - October 2017.
Start Year 2016
 
Description Society of Underwater Technology - Decommissioning working group 
Organisation Marine Alliance for Science and Technology for Scotland
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution Member of steering group, responsible for contributing to meetings and helping organise the MASTS/SUT Decommissioning Workshop held at the MASTS ASM in October 2016. Helped organise and chair session at the October 2017 workshop. Contacting invited speakers, reviewing abstracts, undertaking workshop administration. Currently planning sessions for the 2018 workshop.
Collaborator Contribution To use the combined expertise from marine salvage, oil & gas decommissioning and marine science to influence, educate and unlock solutions to wreck removal and offshore energy challenges and opportunities. Three broad themes have been identified and will be met through delivery of the following activities: 1. Put forward a proposed programme for the annual MASTS/SUT Workshop on Decommissioning and Wreck Removal. 2. Identify other initiatives appropriate for the Work Group/SDC to support. 3. Share information on related / complimentary initiatives across industry.
Impact MASTS/SUT Decommissioning Workshop - October 2016; MASTS/SUT Decommissioning Workshop - October 2017.
Start Year 2016
 
Description Society of Underwater Technology - Decommissioning working group 
Organisation Society for Underwater Technology
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Learned Society 
PI Contribution Member of steering group, responsible for contributing to meetings and helping organise the MASTS/SUT Decommissioning Workshop held at the MASTS ASM in October 2016. Helped organise and chair session at the October 2017 workshop. Contacting invited speakers, reviewing abstracts, undertaking workshop administration. Currently planning sessions for the 2018 workshop.
Collaborator Contribution To use the combined expertise from marine salvage, oil & gas decommissioning and marine science to influence, educate and unlock solutions to wreck removal and offshore energy challenges and opportunities. Three broad themes have been identified and will be met through delivery of the following activities: 1. Put forward a proposed programme for the annual MASTS/SUT Workshop on Decommissioning and Wreck Removal. 2. Identify other initiatives appropriate for the Work Group/SDC to support. 3. Share information on related / complimentary initiatives across industry.
Impact MASTS/SUT Decommissioning Workshop - October 2016; MASTS/SUT Decommissioning Workshop - October 2017.
Start Year 2016
 
Description Decommissioning stakeholder meetings 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Regional
Primary Audience Industry/Business
Results and Impact Attending stakeholder workshops contribute to the discussion of environmental impacts of potential decommissioning programmes.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2015
 
Description MASTS/SUT Decommissioning Workshop - Presentation 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Industry/Business
Results and Impact Presentation of project overview at the MASTS/SUT Decommissioning workshop. The presentation covered project aims and methods, results were not available at time of presentation as the project is on-going. The presentation encourage additional dialogue with industry and academic colleagues which may result in potential collaboration on similar projects and future research.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2016
 
Description Presentation at INSITE Seminar 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Industry/Business
Results and Impact The Influence of Man-made Structures in the North Sea: Building the Evidence-base seminar was hosted in Aberdeen on December 11th 2017 in order to target Oil and Gas Industry members who were unable to attend the London meeting in October 2017. I was invited to present results of this project to the audience given the close link between this project and the INSITE Programme. The seminar gave an opportunity to explore potential areas of further project development and collaboration.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2012,2017