Innovation Fund

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

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

Project Leader Duration Budget
Alison Lane (ERM New Zealand Limited / Elemental Group) October 2016 – March 2018 $247,000


Five offshore oil and gas installations in Taranaki are approaching the end of their life. They 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. 

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This is a national project.