BEIS issues updated guidance on decommissioning

News / / BEIS issues updated guidance on decommissioning

The UK government’s Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy (BEIS) has recently issued, in draft, an updated version of its Guidance Notes on the Decommissioning of Offshore Oil and Gas Installations and Pipelines (the “Updated Notes”). The final version is expected in about April this year. In substance the Updated Notes are fundamentally unchanged and have at their heart the UK’s commitment to the OSPAR 98/3 decision, which laid down the guiding principle that all installations and offshore infrastructure should be removed unless a derogation is granted.

What the Updated Notes do seek to achieve is greater clarity regarding the obligations and expectations placed upon operators, marking an important point in the evolution of the decommissioning of the UK’s oil and gas infrastructure. 

The information now laid down regarding the decommissioning processes is primarily to be found in Annex H to the Updated Notes, entitled Decommissioning processes and pathways. It sets out three pathways, being:

1.  Pathway 1:  the full removal of the installation, which pathway applies to all installations under 10,000 tonnes and to all others for which there is no potential for a derogation.

2.  Pathway 2:  applies in respect of all decommissioning programmes with the potential for an application for an OSPAR derogation.

3.  Pathway 3:  applies in cases of pipeline decommissioning.

The three pathways are summarised, for the first time, in a flow diagram setting out the required process for each of the pathways. The general requirements for each pathway are then further set out.

The Updated Notes also provide developed guidance on what is required in the Environmental Appraisal and greater clarity around specific requirements and definitions. A key area here concerns the information that an operator must provide to support decommissioning decisions, particularly where it is considering a leave in situ option for pipelines.

Finally, the Updated Notes have been developed so far as post-decommissioning activities are required. These set out a risk-based approach to monitoring and the need for a long term management plan for any infrastructure that will remain in place.

Clearly the Updated Notes are primarily targeted at the operators, being the parties bearing the primary responsibility for decommissioning the assets they have exploited during their productive life. But operators will not be equipped to manage the decommissioning process in isolation and the service company sector will have a crucial role to play in the success of decommissioning oil and gas installations and infrastructure in the UK whether that be in the design, engineering, analysis of options, in the physical decommissioning work itself or in the post-decommissioning monitoring and management. In that sense, the UK government’s decommissioning policies and the Updated Notes will have a bearing on how operators and contractors alike conduct themselves throughout the decommissioning process, so are something that all interested parties need to be aware of.

At the time of going to press, BEIS has just issued a consultation on proposed updates to its Offshore Renewables Decommissioning Guidance for Industry. We will comment on any developments in this area in a  future update.

Related sectors:

Related news & insights

Insights / Climate Change Litigation Continueth – The Scottish Case: Greenpeace v. BEIS and the OGA (and BP too)

15-10-2021 / Energy & Infrastructure

The Scottish Court of Session has declared that dealing with the global environmental impact of the consumption of oil is a political matter for the UK Government, not a legal issue for the UK Courts in considering the validity of approval to drill new oil wells in a single field.

Climate Change Litigation Continueth – The Scottish Case: Greenpeace v. BEIS and the OGA (and BP too)

News / AfCFTA and Energy & Infrastructure

11-10-2021 / Energy & Infrastructure, Maritime

This article is the third in a series of articles looking at the impact of the African Continental Free Trade Area (the “AfCFTA”) on various practice areas and industry sectors that our clients operate in. This article focuses on Energy and Infrastructure and addresses some of the key questions our clients have asked us.

AfCFTA and Energy & Infrastructure

Insights / Supreme Court clarifies lawful act of duress

21-09-2021 / Energy & Infrastructure

In Times Travel (UK) Ltd v Pakistan International Airlines Corporation (Rev 2) [2019] EWCA Civ 828, the Supreme Court confirmed the existence of the doctrine of ‘lawful act duress’ under English law and its limited scope in commercial transactions.

Supreme Court clarifies lawful act of duress

News / Shell agrees pay out to Nigerian community to settle long-running oil spill dispute

17-08-2021 / Energy & Infrastructure

In 1991, the Ejama-Ebubu people began a legal campaign to hold Shell Nigeria (“Shell”) accountable for an oil spill that occurred in 1970. Shell accepted that these oil spills had occurred, but argued that these were caused by “third parties” during the Biafran war, for which Shell should not be held liable. Almost 20 years later, in 2010, a Nigerian Federal court ordered Shell to pay 17 billion naira to the Ejama-Ebubu community. Shell has unsuccessfully attempted to challenge this ruling over several years and, in November 2020, the Nigerian Supreme Court ruled that Shell could no longer appeal the decision.

Shell agrees pay out to Nigerian community to settle long-running oil spill dispute

News / The Bribery Act: ten years on

19-07-2021 / Energy & Infrastructure

The Bribery Act: ten years on

Quick links

The Legal 500 2021

“Very available and responsive to company developments in real time. Frank, clear advice – not just the ‘easy’ answer.”

The Legal 500 2022

“The solicitors who have handled our employment related issues are of the highest quality in terms of their specialist area of expertise, their professionalism and their approach to us as clients and as people. Special mention has to be made of Laura Livingstone. Laura became a key member of our team and felt more like a colleague than an external adviser – a colleague you could rely upon. Laura’s attention to detail, professionalism and responsiveness was second to none. Laura has come to know and understand us as individuals and this has enabled her to personalise her advice and even sometimes to preempt our future requirements. We have a very special and extremely valuable relationship with her and the firm.”

- The Legal 500

The Legal 500 2022

“Ince are an excellent “fit” with our specific needs. The firm has consistently provided a broad range of personnel-related advice and in our experience that advice has been consistently of the very highest professional standard: it has been timely, comprehensive, accurate and at a cost which is commensurate with the budget of an organisation of our size.”

- The Legal 500

The Legal 500 2022

“The firm has an unusually high degree of insight into the practices and policies required by the Gambling Commission as regards compliance with its own requirements and conditions – particularly Andrew Tait, derived from his previous in-house experience.”

- The Legal 500