The Maritime Union of Australia (MUA) is urging the Australian government for a major shakeup of government policy and regulation of the dismantling, processing, recycling and disposal of offshore oil and gas infrastructure.
MUA, alongside Macquarie University’s Centre for Energy and Natural Resources Innovation and Transformation, launched a report in the Parliament House in Canberra which calls for the government to focus on decommissioning and recycling of offshore oil and gas installations.
The parties noted they had examined Australia’s international legal obligations and domestic law pertaining to dismantling, processing, recycling and disposal of offshore oil and gas infrastructure, identified gaps in the existing legal framework, analyzed best practices in mature jurisdictions and international legal instruments, and provided a series of high-level recommendations for the development of effective government policy.
The Union stated that Australia is on the cusp of a $60 billion opportunity in the task of removing and recycling retired oil and gas infrastructure.
According to MUA, many oil and gas companies with offshore projects at or near their end of life have spent years trying to avoid their legal and ethical obligation to safely, cleanly and thoroughly remove their underwater and floating equipment, including well-heads, pipelines and riser turret moorings (RTMs), as the installations are often beyond the horizon and therefore invisible to the community.
The Union states that high standards onshore are essential to achieving excellent safety, economic and environmental outcomes offshore, therefore the report emphasizes the necessary next step after structures are removed and come ashore.
“Every year we catch major oil and gas companies trying to abandon their offshore, underwater and floating infrastructure, often after deliberately ignoring routine maintenance tasks so that it becomes uneconomical or unsafe to properly remove them,” said the Union’s Assistant National Secretary, Adrian Evans.
“Australian maritime workers built and maintained our offshore oil and gas industry throughout the latter decades of the 20th Century, and with our eyes set firmly on the need to decarbonise our economy and diversify our renewable energy supplies the MUA is advocating for a sustainable and clean withdrawal from offshore oil and gas that includes the comprehensive removal and recycling of the massive volume of disused offshore equipment.”