Greater value could be extracted from Scotland’s redundant offshore oil and gas installations if their components were reused rather than recycled.
That is the message of a report by the RSA think tank for Zero Waste Scotland, which found that the reuse potential was significant.
In the North Sea Oil and Gas Rig Decommissioning & Re-use Opportunity Report, the RSA said the benefits of adopting circular economy principles within the oil and gas sector included reduced environmental effects associated with recycling and disposal of materials, cheaper decommissioning and the potential to use materials to develop new oil and gas industry sub-sectors.
RSA director of circular economy Sophie Thomas said: “There is untapped value and great opportunity for Scotland to develop a world-class circular industry around oil and gas rig decommissioning.”
The report said some £46bn worth of decommissioning across the North Sea would take place by 2040, and “the potential value inherent in reuse of these assets has been shown to be significantly higher than recycling”.
Six possible reuse activities were identified as the most likely to succeed.
These were three examples of reuse of components – steel sections from jacket and topsides, of pipelines and of anchor chains and cables – and three types of equipment that best lent themselves to reconditioning and reuse: vessels and tanks, accommodation blocks and winches.
Other significant opportunities included turbines, pumps and compressors.