New Study Says Oil Rigs Can Be Converted To Pump Emissions Into The Ground

This would be cheaper than decommissioning them and save the environment.

The University of Edinburgh released a study offering up a new solution for how to handle decommissioned oil rigs.

Rather than shutting them down, the study says North Sea oil and gas rigs could be turned into giant pumps that send carbon dioxide emissions into the ground beneath the ocean floor. This is a form of carbon storage that environmentalists have long championed as a valuable part of fighting climate change. 

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"Refitting old platforms to act as pumping stations for self-contained CO2 storage sites would be 10 times cheaper than decommissioning the structures," Edinburgh researchers said on their website

An off-shore oil rig in the North Sea.  Shuttertstock / Frode Koppang

The analysis estimated that decommissioning the oil and gas rigs could cost as much as $316 million, but repurposing them could cost a tenth of that. Using the new repurposed rigs, the oil and gas rigs could turn into storage sites where CO2 was locked away or shot into the ground once it's combined with saltwater, which makes it safe to keep in the earth. Not only would this lower the expenses of storing carbon emissions, it would also reduce the expected cost of decommissioning the rigs.

"Removing platforms at large expense is short-sighted," Jonathan Scafidi, from the school of GeoSciences, said. "Re-using them to dispose of CO2 in rocks several kilometers beneath the seabed will not only be cheaper but provides a cost-effective means of cutting the UK's CO2 emissions to meet the 2050 net-zero target."

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