Decommissioning offshore oil and gas installations
Find out about oil and gas decommissioning activities in the EEZ, and how decommissioning is regulated.
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Decommissioning means taking oil and gas installations out of service, and shutting them down. Oil and gas are no longer extracted, and it may involve removing the installation and equipment and permanently sealing wells.
Decommissioning may also involve returning the environment to its natural state. This depends on the marine consent conditions for the oil and gas operation.
Some decommissioning activities (eg, discharge of a harmful substance or the disturbance of the seabed) require consent.
Operators and owners of oil and gas installations in the EEZ must have a decommissioning plan accepted by the EPA before they can apply for a consent for activities required to decommission their fields. Decommissioning plans regulations were published on 30 September 2021, and come into force on 28 October 2021.
The decommissioning plan is subject to public consultation before being accepted.
Decommissioning of the Tui oil field started before the decommissioning plans legislation came into effect. This means that the consent holder (Ministry of Business, Innovation & Employment) applied for consents for some activities without requiring an EPA accepted decommissioning plan.
This is a notified consent application process that will be decided by a board of inquiry appointed by the Minister for the Environment.