Advanced monitoring of marine infrastructure for decommissioning

Lead Research Organisation: National Oceanography Centre
Department Name: Science and Technology

Abstract

Many oil and gas fields are reaching the end of their lives. It is estimated that over 50 of the 475 structures that eventually will have to be decommissioned will be decommissioned by 2018. While most structures will be removed entirely, some larger platforms and pipelines currently cannot be removed without causing serious environmental harm. The structures that remain in place are cleaned and made safe and then they are regularly monitored by the oil and gas company that owns them to ensure that they are not causing any adverse impacts on the environment. Currently this monitoring is done using a survey ship, which at tens of thousands of pounds a day, becomes very expensive. This is not conducive to regular monitoring, which in turn increases the risks of any impacts going undetected.
This project aims to introduce a new approach for monitoring of decommissioned structures - autonomous submarines. These vehicles are becoming more widely adopted by industry. It has been demonstrated that these vehicles can be launched from shore and carry out complex missions underwater, collecting information on the seabed type and biological environment, while also monitoring pollution. However, so far they have not yet been applied to decommissioning and existing sensors and protocols need to be reconfigured to collect the data that is required for environmental monitoring around decommissioned structures. Working with our project partners, Shell, BP, BEIS, Gardline and SeeByte, this project will address these challenges and develop approaches for collection of appropriate monitoring data to regularly assess the impact of decommissioned structures with autonomous vehicle. The approaches will be integrated within the standard practices of oil companies to ensure that they are realistic and widely adopted for monitoring. The integration of this new information with existing baseline information on the areas will also be considered. This will ultimately reduce the costs associated with monitoring and improve the quality and quantity of data that can be obtained, which will reduce the risk of environmental damage from decommissioned structures.

Planned Impact

Oil companies including the project partners, Shell and BP, will benefit from the project by developing a novel low-cost but rigorous monitoring strategy for its decommissioned assets. This will greatly reduce the cost of monitoring, particularly if multiple fields can be assessed at once. The approaches developed during this project will potentially allow industry consortia to be formed to share the cost of monitoring sites, further reducing the financial burden on individual companies.
Regulators and policy makers will benefit from the project as it will provide a practical solution for regular industry environmental monitoring to detect impacts, which is a critical part of the regulatory approach for dealing with derogation cases. The approaches developed by this project could also be used for compliance monitoring, enforcement and facilitate emergency response.
The project will provide an industry approved roadmap to develop existing and novel technologies with a guaranteed market. These technologies and expertise in application will be based in the UK and will provide potential economic benefits for the country and a source of foreign income as decommissioning becomes necessary in other jurisdictions. Survey and data-acquisition companies will benefit from the project by being able to proactively adopt new approaches as they are demanded by the oil companies and sell the required services and technologies.
Industrial environmental management and applied science will be informed by more data, allowing more effective management and study of the impacts of decommissioned infrastructure with greater spatial and temporal resolution than before. In addition, standard approaches using high-quality autonomous systems facilitate comparisons between and within projects, enhancing scientific understanding and improving management. The wider community will benefit from improvements in environmental monitoring and reduced risk of environmental impacts from decommissioned infrastructure.

Publications

10 25 50
 
Description The primary effort and output of this research was a review and prospectus of the use of autonomous marine environmental monitoring systems (vehicles / platforms / sensors) particularly as or might be used in connection with the decommissioning of offshore oil fields in the UK (and elsewhere). That work has now completed with the formal, peer-reviewed, publication of our assessment in the journal "Science of the Total Environment". Our article, "Autonomous marine environmental monitoring: Application in decommissioned oil fields", is now freely available via https://doi.org/10.1016/j.scitotenv.2019.02.310,
Exploitation Route We expect continuing and increasing uptake of autonomous systems in many spheres of marine environmental monitoring - our work serves to highlight that potential.
Sectors Aerospace, Defence and Marine,Agriculture, Food and Drink,Construction,Digital/Communication/Information Technologies (including Software),Energy,Environment,Government, Democracy and Justice,Transport

URL https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0048969719308137
 
Description Impacts are not yet strictly quantifiable, and will in any case be difficult to separate from related projects nationally and internationally. There is clearly increasing interest from the Oil & Gas sector, and more recently the offshore renewables sector, in the greater use of autonomous marine systems.
First Year Of Impact 2017
Sector Aerospace, Defence and Marine,Energy,Environment
Impact Types Policy & public services

 
Description 1 Feb 2018, Hurricane Energy, Surrey 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Industry/Business
Results and Impact Meeting with Hurricane Energy, presentation of results from in situ observations at west of Shetland oil fields using traditional methods (ROV, ship-deployed samplers etc), including "decommissioned" protective structure observations. Continued discussion about how autonomy could be used in future mapping and environmental monitoring for life of field.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2018
 
Description 14 March 2018, Interspill, ExCel Conference Centre, London 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Industry/Business
Results and Impact Formal presentation: "Application of Marine Autonomous Systems to Oil Spill Response and Monitoring."
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2018
 
Description 14 Nov 2017, NOC, Marine Autonomy & Technology Showcase 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact Formal presentation: "Application of Marine Autonomous Systems to oil spill response and monitoring."
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2017
 
Description 16th March 2018, Autonomous Environmental Monitoring for Decommissioning, Oneday workshop, NOC 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Industry/Business
Results and Impact Presentation of recommendations from NERC research project "Autonomous Environmental Monitoring for Decommissioning" to stakeholders. Review of proposed draft project primary publication "Autonomous marine environmental monitoring: application in decommissioned oil fields" and capture of stakeholder additional input.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2018
 
Description 27 September 2017, Industry Technical Advisory Committee (ITAC), Plymouth Marine Laboratory 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Industry/Business
Results and Impact Formal presentation: "Current & Future developments in Marine Autonomous Systems."
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2017
 
Description 28-29 November 2017, Offshore Decommissioning Conference 2017, St Andrews 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Industry/Business
Results and Impact Formal presentation: "Assessing and monitoring seafloor environmental status by AUV: PRACTICAL EXPERIENCE IN UK SHELF SEAS."
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2017
 
Description 5 April 2017 Ocean Business, NOC, Southampton 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Industry/Business
Results and Impact Formal presentation: "Using AUV data for decommissioning environmental monitoring."
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2017
 
Description 5-6 October 2017, SUT/MASTS Workshop, Decommissioning & Wreck Removal, Glasgow 
Form Of Engagement Activity A formal working group, expert panel or dialogue
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact Participation in stakeholder engagement.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2017
 
Description 6 June 2017, NOC, Hurricane Energy meeting 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Industry/Business
Results and Impact Formal presentation: Results of in situ observations at West of Shetland oil fields using traditional methods (ROV, ship-deployed samplers etc). Followed by tour of MARSIC centre, MASSMO command and control (visualisation) centre and discussion about how autonomy could be used in future mapping and environmental monitoring for life of field.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2017
 
Description 6 March 2018, NERC Design for Decommissioning: Opportunities for marine science workshop, Edinburgh 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact Formal presentation: "Autonomous marine environmental monitoring for decommissioning."
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2018
 
Description 6 Sept 2017 Offshore Europe, Decommissioning Zone, Aberdeen 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Industry/Business
Results and Impact Formal presentation: ""Autonomous marine environmental monitoring for decommissioning."
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2017
 
Description 9 October 2017, EMSO All Regions Workshop, Hotel Villa Eur, Rome 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact Formal presentation: "Resource Industry Perspectives on Ocean Observing."
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2017
 
Description • 27 Sept 2017 Hydrographic Society Meeting Seeing is Believing. New perspectives on subsea operations, London 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Industry/Business
Results and Impact Formal presentation: ""using marine autonomous systems for environmental survey."
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2017