In the OSPAR maritime area, in particular in the North Sea, major developments in the oil and gas industry have resulted in a large number of offshore installations.
Since 1998 the dumping, and leaving wholly or partly in place, of disused offshore installations is prohibited within the OSPAR maritime area under OSPAR Decision 98/3 on the Disposal of Disused Offshore Installations. However, following assessment, the competent authority of the relevant Contracting Party may give permission to leave installations or parts of installations in place in the case of:
- steel installations weighing more than ten thousand tonnes in air;
- gravity based concrete installations;
- floating concrete installations;
- any concrete anchor-base which results, or is likely to result, in interference with other legitimate uses of the sea.
OSPAR monitors the development of offshore installations and maintains the OSPAR Oil and Gas Offshore inventory. The database includes the name and ID number, location, operator, water depth, production start, current status, category and function of the installations. At present more than 1350 offshore installations are operational in the OSPAR maritime area, most of them sub-sea steel installations and fixed steel installations. OSPAR Contracting Parties with oil and gas industry offshore installations are: Denmark, Germany, Ireland, the Netherlands, Norway, Spain and the United Kingdom.