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The University of Southampton
Southampton Marine and Maritime Institute

WUN grant success by SMMI experts to inform on decommissioning offshore infrastructure

Published: 2 January 2019
Offshore rig

SMMI Deputy Directors, Profs Susan Gourvenec and Fraser Sturt were awarded a Worldwide Universities Network Research Development Grant on the topic of ‘Environmental and social consequences of decommissioning offshore infrastructure’, in collaboration with partners Dr Julian Clifton, University of Western Australia and Prof Federico Trigos, Tec de Monterrey, Mexico. The initial team represent disciplines of engineering, archaeology, geography and business and will draw more broadly across the disciplines to form a working group through the Southampton Marine & Maritime Institute, the University of Western Australia’s Oceans Institute and Tec de Monterrey’s Sustainability Institute.

The project will investigate and develop appropriate methodologies for understanding and mitigating the complex consequences of decommissioning offshore infrastructure around the world – with particular emphasis on environmental and social impact. Thousands of oil and gas platforms will become obsolete over the coming decades on a backdrop of a growing industry of a greater variety of offshore installations than ever before - from offshore renewables to telecoms infrastructure. Under current regulation most offshore infrastructure requires complete removal from the oceans and disposal onshore at the end of their use-life, but other options exist, including rigs-to-reefs approaches and in situ decommissioning. The full life cycle environmental and social costs associated with the alternative decommissioning outcomes are not currently understood, therefore preventing selection of the ‘best’ option. This project will involve workshops and dialogues to create a strategy to develop the evidence base and decision making framework to inform on decommissioning offshore infrastructure that will capture not only economic interests but also environmental and social interests.

If you are interested in getting involved in the working group for this project – please get in touch with Susan ( and Fraser (

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