Status, strategies, and cost management of offshore oil rig platform decommissioning and Rigs-to-Reefs programs in the Gulf of Mexico: addressing decommissioning challenges using a multi-criteria approach
Keen, Elena Kobrinski
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Financial issues with offshore oil and gas platform decommissioning in the Gulf of Mexico have escalated over the past two years into a substantial problem for the U.S. regulatory agencies, Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) and Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement (BSEE), under the Department of the Interior (DOI). Although oil and gas structural material is required to be removed by the lease contract and domestic and international law, significant delays have occurred due to insufficient decommissioning funds. This manuscript provides a broad overview of the history and background, legal considerations, international perspectives, and financial obligations of offshore oil and gas platform decommissioning in the United States. Two platform case studies are presented that highlight the complexities of developing decommissioning strategies. A multi-criteria decision analysis (MCDA) model is applied to these scenarios, incorporating both expert and stakeholder views, generating an optimal ‘best option’ decommissioning result. The goal of implementing the MCDA model is to showcase a solution to an often-controversial subject, which allows unlimited inclusion to generate the final result. This dissertation concludes that platforms are unique and must be treated independently. Encompassing expertise from focus groups and committees with specific knowledge is an innovative approach that has great potential to make the decommissioning process timely, efficient, cost-effective, and beneficial to all stakeholders. This pilot program was successful in terms of expanding upon Fowler et al. 2014, which was the primary goal of the study. This dissertation could be improved by: allowing more experts and stakeholders to participate in an open forum; allowing stakeholders to determine categories and associated criteria based on how the platform is perceived before the scoring; and finally, developing a formal expert panel selection review process that would make this concept more unique and adaptable to a variety of situations, which could also include artificial reef managers. This careful selection process is crucial at present to address specific issues regarding platforms in the Gulf of Mexico. Options moving forward outlined at the conclusion of Chapter 2, as well as methods to increase transparency and stakeholder participation as described in Chapter 3, are recommended as the broad base to address decommissioning challenges in the future.