In an article posted on ‘The Conversation’ website, Assistant Professor of Renewable Energy and Carbon Removal at University of Hull, Ben KoloszLecturer discusses the potential benefits of repurposing abandoned oil rigs by placing carbon dioxide (CO₂) scrubbers on them and deploying them at sea.
his approach could address both environmental and economic concerns associated with decommissioning these rigs. The cost of decommissioning abandoned oil rigs, estimated at £24 billion for the UK alone, poses a significant financial burden.
Additionally, international conventions, such as Ospar, require the removal of such rigs from the sea, conflicting with UK marine preservation policies that recognize the rigs as artificial reefs fostering new marine habitats.
The proposal suggests redirecting taxpayers’ money from decommissioning to retrofitting the rigs with CO₂ scrubbing technology. This would leverage existing infrastructure, making it more cost-effective than establishing new pipelines for carbon capture. The rigs, equipped with machinery previously used for extracting oil and natural gas, could be modified to operate in reverse, allowing them to efficiently capture and store CO₂ from the atmosphere.
As explained, this innovative approach offers a dual solution by addressing environmental concerns and repurposing existing resources in a more sustainable manner.
The industry is still too small to deliver carbon removal on anything like the required scale. This is due to a lack of investment, and a very minimal market presence.
The article concludes that in order to stimulate such a market into existence, it is imperative to offset the challenges posed by industries such as steel and cement, which remain notably resistant to decarbonization efforts.