Today at Ocean Business, a project has been launched that aims to develop a guide for using ocean-robots to assess the impact of decommissioned oil structures on marine life.
This National Oceanography Centre (NOC)-led, joint science-industry project was launched by Dr Daniel Jones at a workshop in Ocean Business.
Decommissioned oil structures can have positive impacts, such as providing a habitat for marine life in a similar way to a reef, or negative consequences - such as marine pollution. In the North Sea, for example, structures are rapidly colonised and typically develop highly productive ecosystems that often include priority species, such as the cold-water coral Lophelia pertusa. On the other hand, large piles of oil-enriched sediments lie underneath many oil and gas installations. The environmental impacts of these piles are not well known, nor are the relative impacts of re-disturbing partially recovered systems while removing structures. Marine robots have great potential to investigate these impacts.