Marine wildlife could benefit if some de-commissioned oil rigs were left on the sea bed, a survey says.
This challenges the conventional wisdom that the sea bed should be restored to its pristine state when a rig’s life ends. The paper says over the 30-year lifetime of an oil rig, creatures have often colonised the structure to form a reef. It says this artificial habitat can be more valuable than the original seabed. It can also protect sea creatures from fishing.
The paper from the University of Technology in Sydney, Australia, is based on a survey of 40 experts from academia, government and consultancies. Their focus was on the North Sea – but the authors say the principles are applicable anywhere. More than 90% of the experts surveyed said governments should abandon the principle that oil rigs should always be removed. Instead, there should be a more flexible, case-by-case approach to de-commissioning.
It warns that the process of removing the rigs can be damaging to the environment in its own right. BBC
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