John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.

Air emissions associated with decommissioning California's offshore oil and gas platforms


The 27 oil and gas platforms offshore southern California are nearing the end of their productive lives and will be decommissioned in the near future. Many are in deep water and are correspondingly large, with the largest, Harmony, in 1200 feet of water weighing approximately 43,000 tons. Nearly 30% of California's platforms are in water depths that exceed those of any previous decommissioning project anywhere in the world. Decommissioning will involve the operation of diesel‐powered heavy equipment for long periods in virtually all phases of the operation (e.g., at the platform, in transit to and from the platform, in port, at offloading, salvage, and recycling facilities) in a region where air quality is a crucial concern for state, federal, and local regulatory agencies, as well as the public. To support future decision making about the choice between decommissioning options, we consider potential air emissions generated under complete and partial (removal to 85 feet below water line) options. We describe major emissions categories, the environmental and human health issues associated with each, and examine how the regulatory system would operate in specific projects. We then describe methods to estimate emissions for a worst‐case example involving the largest platform, Harmony. We estimate that complete vs. partial removal of Harmony would result, respectively, in 600 or 89 tons of NOx, 50 or 7 tons of carbon monoxide, 29,400 or 4,400 tons of CO2, 21 or 3 tons of PM10, and 20 or 3 tons of PM2.5. Complete removal of Harmony's jacket and topsides creates approximately 6.75 times more air pollution than partial removal down to 85 feet below the sea surface. We discuss how the Harmony estimate can be used as a baseline to roughly estimate emissions from decommissioning other platforms, using expected time on station for the major categories of decommissioning equipment. This article is protected by copyright. All rights reserved

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