Re-use of offshore infrastructure and platforms: assessing value to communities, industry and the environment

Maui A platform in Taranaki Bight. © Shell New Zealand

We have investigated the regulatory, social, economic and environmental considerations relating to decommissioning offshore oil and gas infrastructure in Taranaki, New Zealand. 

Project Leader: Dr Alison Lane, ERM New Zealand Limited / Elemental Group 

Duration: October 2016 – March 2018 
Budget: $247,000 
Status: Completed 

Five offshore oil and gas installations in Taranaki are approaching the end of their life and are expected to be decommissioned between 2020 and 2046.  

Our research explored the impact of three decommissioning options – complete removal, partial removal, or not removing offshore structures. We reviewed:  

  • International frameworks for re-use and decommissioning. 
  • Ocean floor ecological studies and marine mammal sightings.  
  • Cost-benefit analysis of decommissioning options. 
  • Community attitudes and awareness.  

In some regions in the world, there is evidence of environmental benefits if decommissioned infrastructure is left in place. We found no evidence that these benefits would apply in the Taranaki marine ecosystem. However, our research did not include fish surveys, due to safety issues from working close to offshore structures.  

The New Zealand Government is developing a national framework for decommissioning and this will require consultation and engagement with New Zealanders and stakeholder groups. Our studies revealed a limited awareness of the implications of different decommissioning options. We held hui with local iwi who indicated a clear desire to be equal parties in these discussions. 

We recommend that the oil and gas industry engage with iwi representatives and the wider community to ensure that their voices, values and opinions are incorporated into decommissioning plans. 

We invite you to read the final research report below:

Latest news and updates

Assessing marine ecosystems to improve management

Sustainable Seas National Science Challenge researchers are hoping that marine health data gathered on a recent field trip to Queen Charlotte Sounds will support more integrated management of the ecosystem.

Developing ecosystem-based management principles for NZ

The Sustainable Seas National Science Challenge leadership team have proposed seven major principles for ecosystem-based management (EBM) in Aotearoa New Zealand.

Growing a successful and sustainable Māori marine economy

The Sustainable Seas research team led by Dr John Reid and Dr Jason Mika have identified five key factors that will drive growth of the Māori marine economy: