Our decommissioning approach
The process of decommissioning an offshore asset presents complex challenges. Decommissioning plans must take into account a combination of factors, including the specific marine ecosystem at each site and the size and weight of facilities, as well as the inherent risks of removing such facilities. As a result, the planning and preparation for decommissioning some offshore assets can start several years prior to the actual execution.
During the planning phase, we seek to incorporate lessons from other projects as well as expert advice from appropriate parties, including fishing communities, environmental organizations, recycling experts and academia.
ExxonMobil created an offshore decommissioning center of expertise in 2015 that is responsible for planning and managing the safe decommissioning of our assets.
Performance and initiatives
Spotlight: Decommissioning the Sable offshore energy project
The Sable offshore energy project is a natural gas development operated by ExxonMobil Canada near Sable Island, Nova Scotia. The Sable project, which consists of seven offshore platforms, has helped introduce natural gas as a new source of lower-emission energy in this region of Canada.
The Sable project is now a mature field and is approaching the final phase of activities. The planning phase for decommissioning began in 2013 and included the evaluation of multiple potential decommissioning strategies based on a number of considerations including safety, environmental and social factors. The decommissioning process is expected to begin in 2018 and be completed in 2021.
Sable Island supports a fragile ecosystem consisting of diverse flora and fauna, as well as the rare Ipswich sparrow and the endangered roseate tern. To respect the island’s ecological importance to Nova Scotian and Canadian communities, ExxonMobil’s decommissioning strategies are designed to ensure all activities can be performed in an environmentally responsible manner.
As part of our environmental planning, ExxonMobil developed a Code of Practice to protect the uniqueness and integrity of Sable Island, with special focus on species-at-risk, to provide guidelines to all personnel working on projects that may affect Sable Island.
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The next step after decommissioning is rehabilitation, the process of safely repurposing properties that are no longer supporting operations. We consider the interests of various stakeholders when selecting site-specific, science-based and cost-effective approaches to remediation. Our goal is to enhance asset and community value while creating opportunities for beneficial reuse of inactive properties.
Performance and initiatives
We are committed to sustainably managing our surplus properties. ExxonMobil Environmental Services (EMES) – our global organization that supports the remediation and stewardship of surplus sites – has managed more than $7.1 billion of remediation work and returned about 2,500 property parcels to beneficial end uses since 2008. In 2017, EMES monitored about 4,000 active remediation sites in more than 30 countries.