Building an offshore decommissioning industry

Minister for Resources and Northern Australia Madeleine King has outlined the potential for Australia to build a new industry to decommission offshore oil and gas infrastructure and released an issues paper that points to the opportunities for the sector.

In a statement to Parliament, Minister King said work to decommission infrastructure when projects finish production could be worth up to $60 billion over the next 30 to 50 years.

Decommissioning involves removing oil and gas infrastructure, permanently and securely plugging all disused wells, and rehabilitating the marine environment. There is also an opportunity to recycle much of this material onshore. 

“Establishing a decommissioning industry in Australia will provide immense economic opportunities and create well-paid jobs in regional communities,” Minister King said.

Australian law requires that the offshore resources industry pays all costs associated with decommissioning offshore oil and gas infrastructure. The Government’s objective is to identify opportunities to maximise the benefits of this industry investment to all Australians. 

“The Australian Government wants as much of the anticipated $60 billion in spending to remove old oil and gas infrastructure to be spent backing Australian ingenuity and jobs.

“We want to build an industry to service not just ageing offshore oil and gas assets in Australia, but also meet future demand for sustainably decommissioning offshore windfarms at the end of their productive life.”

Minister King said the May Budget included $4.5 million to develop a decommissioning roadmap, to be released in 2024.

To help inform the roadmap, Minister King has released an issues paper and called for industry and public feedback on barriers and potential opportunities for decommissioning in areas including:

  • infrastructure and adjacent industries;
  • the workforce;
  • First Nations engagement;
  • waste management and recycling; and
  • regulatory frameworks.

The issues paper and information on how to lodge a submission is available through the Department of Industry, Science and Resources consultation hub.