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Could rigs to reefs contribute to the UK's net zero target?

  • Market Insight 08 February 2021 08 February 2021
  • UK & Europe

  • Energy & Natural Resources

The oil industry expects a significant move to decommission oil rigs in the North Sea over the next three decades.

Could rigs to reefs contribute to the UK's net zero target?

This could in turn generate vast amounts of additional CO2 emissions because UK rules put a premium on the complete removal of offshore architecture from the seabed and its reuse or final disposal on land. Converting oil rigs to reefs has proved a more carbon efficient solution in the US and also helps maintain biodiversity.

We examine whether a combination of international maritime conventions to which the UK is a signatory and existing UK law are a barrier to this more sustainable solution and, importantly, a challenge to the Government’s legally binding net zero target. We also assess the likelihood of a rigs to reef programme being implemented in the UK following objections under the OSPAR Convention to Shell’s decommissioning plan for platforms in the Brent field.

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Practical Law article written by Clare Hatcher and Sachin Shah, Clyde & Co LLP

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Additional authors:

Sachin Shah

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