A fresh approach to tackling Australia’s decommissioning challenge

Jason Christie, Senior Decommissioning Consultant at Xodus

Having worked in the offshore industry for over 30 years and the decommissioning industry specifically for the last ~9 years, I have seen the decommissioning industry grow substantially and I can say from experience that we really are seeing the number of challenges increasing year on year. Therefore, I am pleased to have been a key part of establishing a new Contaminant Advisory Group which will support the decommissioning community in Australia.

Xodus, alongside ANSTO, SA Radiation, Total Hazardous Integrated Solutions and Qa3, formed the group to support companies working through the government’s Offshore Petroleum and Greenhouse Gas Storage Bill, which forms the basis of Australia’s offshore oil and gas regulatory framework.

The bill requires operators to fully understand any environmental risks associated with their environmental planning.  It is important to understand the risks associated with any contaminants present during the decommissioning process and further demonstrate that any plans for equipment to be left in-situ are robust and meet the requirements of the regulatory framework.

The Contaminant Advisory Group has been created to provide advice and integrated solutions on the best approach to decommissioning and the associated contaminant issues.

I really do believe that collaboration will be key to the future success of decommissioning in the region and this group will be able to tackle important challenges relating to legacy offshore oil and gas equipment.

I have worked with all the member companies before and have a real understanding of the depth of their subject matter knowledge, research achievements and ability to collaborate in the contamination space. I have no doubt that the group will provide the highest quality advice to support industry.

The combined capabilities and experience between us will evaluate potential contamination risks for offshore and onshore infrastructure (both in-situ and through the disposal or recycling pathways), particularly in relation to naturally occurring radioactive material (NORM) and mercury, common by-products during oil and gas extraction.

NORM and mercury are hazardous materials and may pose a risk to the environment if not assessed and dealt with appropriately during decommissioning.  They can be difficult to detect without expert knowledge and skill. There are currently only a select number of companies that have developed the skillsets, experience, and equipment necessary to detect, differentiate and, if necessary, treat these contaminants.

As laid out in NOPSEMA’s recent research strategy, the risk of contaminants is one of the primary knowledge gaps facing the industry. Each member has proven experience in the areas of NORM and mercury research, detection, analysis, decontamination and disposal.

In bringing these experts together, we can provide not only Australian operators but the wider supply chain with an end-to-end solution to support their decommissioning decision making and ultimate demonstration of ALARP to the regulator.

I believe that knowledge sharing will be key in ensuring that we are offering the best integrated bespoke solutions to each unique contaminant issue to protect the environment, increase safety and reduce the costs of decommissioning in Australia.

Published Date
02 Aug 2022
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