Impacts of offshore oil and gas industry on the marine environment shown to have decreased in the North-East Atlantic, according to an assessment by the Convention for the Protection of the Marine Environment of the North-East Atlantic (the ‘OSPAR Convention’).

OSPAR has published its latest assessment of impacts of the offshore oil and gas industry on the marine environment of the North-East Atlantic. The assessment for the period 2009 – 2019 shows that there has been a measurable decrease in emissions and discharges from the offshore oil and gas industry. Activities that were once widespread for example from the discharge of oil-based fluids, have now ceased and the level of contamination has decreased over most of the North-East Atlantic.

The assessment looks at a wide range of potential impacts including historical cuttings piles, discharges of produced water, drilling fluids and chemicals. Where potential impacts may still occur, OSPAR measures have ensured that these have been reduced, for example reduction in the amount of dispersed oil in produced water discharges and the phase out and reduction of discharge of hazardous chemicals and drilling fluids.

Contracting Parties have also fully implemented the ban on the dumping or leaving in place of disused offshore installations. Since OSPAR Decision 98/3 on the disposal of disused offshore installations was adopted, approximately 170 installations have been decommissioned of which 10 were granted derogations.

Evidence from monitoring and reporting indicates that the overall effect of these OSPAR measures and their implementation by Contracting Parties has been to significantly improve the overall quality status of the North-East Atlantic as a whole, but particularly in the Greater North Sea where there are high levels of oil and gas activity.

OSPAR will continue to take all possible steps to prevent and eliminate pollution, and work towards meeting the operational objectives set out in the North-East Atlantic Environment Strategy 2030.

The full report can be read here.

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