John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.

Considerations in evaluating potential socioeconomic impacts of offshore platform decommissioning in California

The 27 oil and gas platforms offshore southern California will eventually reach the end of their useful lifetimes (estimated between 2015 and 2030) and will be decommissioned. Current state and federal laws and regulations allow for alternative uses in lieu of the complete removal required in existing leases. Any decommissioning pathway will create a complex mix of costs, benefits, opportunities, and constraints for multiple user groups. To assist the California Natural Resources Agency in understanding these issues, we evaluated the potential socioeconomic impacts of the two most likely options: complete removal and partial removal of the structure to 85 feet below the waterline with the remaining structure left in place as an artificial reef — generally defined as a manmade structure with some properties that mimic a natural reef. We estimated impacts on: commercial fishing, commercial shipping, recreational fishing, non‐consumptive boating, and non‐consumptive SCUBA diving. Available data supported quantitative estimates for some impacts, semi‐quantitative estimates for others, and only qualitative approximations of the direction of impact for still others. Even qualitative estimates of the direction of impacts and of user groups' likely preferred option(s) have been useful to the public and decision makers and provided valuable input to the project's integrative decision model (Henrion et al this issue). Uncertainty surrounds even qualitative estimates of the likely direction of impact where interactions between multiple impacts could occur or where user groups include subsets that would experience the same option differently. In addition, we were unable to quantify effects on ecosystem value and on the larger regional ecosystem because of data gaps on the population sizes and dynamics of key species and the uncertainty surrounding the contribution of platforms to available hard substrate and related natural populations offshore southern California. This article is protected by copyright. All rights reserved

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