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Life After Platform Decommissioning

The oil and gas industry has a reputation for excellence in engineering and production, but did you know our dynamic sector could soon be known as one which offers platforms of creativity for businesses the world over?

There are currently more than 600 offshore oil and gas installations in the North Sea, 470 of these are in UK waters. The list of structures includes platforms of various sizes and subsea equipment on the ocean floor as well as materials including 10,000km of pipelines and 5,000 wells and drill cuttings, all of which faces decommissioning.

According to Decom North Sea, more than 90% of those 600 offshore oil and gas installations currently in the North Sea will have to be completely removed from their marine sites once they come to the end of their life cycle. These will then need to be brought back onshore to be re-used, recycled, or disposed of appropriately.

The oil and gas industry certainly has its work cut out for the post-production life of the North Sea. The sector is working hard to ensure the decommissioning of assets runs smoothly and all weaknesses are identified early, but many people are still asking, “What will happen to these offshore installations once they have stopped producing?”

Over the years there have been some very creative uses of assets retired from offshore. For example, an oil rig was bought and transformed into the Seaventures Dive Resort in Malaysia. The former oil platform, with 25 bed spaces, was towed from its oilfield to its new home in the Celebes Sea as a PADI 5 Star IDC Dive Resort. Guests fly to Kuala Lumpur, complete an hour-long drive to the coast and then jump on a boat for another hour trip to their destination.

The idea is catching on. American firm Morris Architects has won prizes for their design concepts to turn oil and gas rigs in the seas around North America into luxury hotels.

So for budding bespoke hoteliers out there, it could be worth keeping your eyes open for any assets which find themselves on the commercial market. The starting bid for the 20-room Huldra oil rig that Statoil put it up for sale three years ago was only 11 pence. The only catch was the huge cost to tow it away from its oil field to land, or private waters.

But if that seems too much to take on, it isn’t just the assets themselves which could be transformed for a new purpose. Last year a man in Somerset converted a small free-fall lifeboat into a riverboat home. Offshore survival craft have an enclosed design which allows them to be safely launched into the sea. Jeff Doyle from Bath bought one and converted it into a one-bedroom bachelor pad complete with a stove, though Jeff opted for a wood burning fire rather than a gas powered one.

Decommissioning is a challenge to the oil and gas industry, but it is certainly one that we have the expertise to accomplish. In the meantime, if you fancy setting up your own scuba resort or riverboat, keep your eyes peeled for any usual ebay updates. Just remember, offshore installations are local pick-up only.

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