Globally, the offshore oil and gas industries have substantial infrastructure on and within the seabed, with plastics used extensively in pipelines, umbilicals and cables. At the end of a field’s economic life it is decommissioned, with some materials left on the seabed or buried in sediment and others removed. What remains unclear is whether the process of decommissioning and the subsequent presence of materials in the sediment could release plastic and microplastic debris into the marine environment.
Funded by INSITE, an independent science programme examining the effects of man-made structures on the ecology of the North Sea, this project aims to establish the extent to which polymeric material associated with decommissioned oil and gas infrastructure presents a source of marine pollution. It will consider the polymers associated with pipelines and umbilicals and use a risk assessment approach to determine the potential for harm.