The growth of the circular economy: How the oil and gas industry can benefit from the best strategy for closure

The growth of the circular economy: How the oil and gas industry can benefit from the best strategy for closure

Changing environmental regulations are increasing pressure on the oil and gas industry to both demonstrate and report on contributions made to positive environmental outcomes. One way to capture these contributions can be achieved through the circular economy during the closure of site.

An effective closure strategy that produces maximum recycling yield and minimum landfill can provide opportunities to oil and gas companies for more effective reporting while increasing transparency.  

In 2021, it was estimated that there were approximately 5,695 kilotons of decommissioning material that would require disposal in Australia. Most of the disposal mass comes from removal of the pipeline infrastructure, dominated by steel and concrete, gas export trunklines and intra-field pipelines. 

While capturing waste for scrap metal contributes significantly to recycling volumes, other materials can be more challenging to separate and process and thus threaten recycling targets. Contaminants commonly found in oil and gas assets of particular concern include NORMS, mercury, fuel oils, asbestos and caustic materials. Safely managing these contaminants requires more intensive processes, skilled personnel and the most stringent safety protocols to minimise risk.  

International decommissioning, deconstruction and remediation company, Liberty Industrial is experienced in delivering positive environmental outcomes while providing measurable outputs, to help deliver tangible value to both businesses and their stakeholders.  

“At Liberty Industrial, we are committed to exemplary environmental performance and stewardship. Waste management is both a business and business as usual. Our continued evolution in technology, innovation and leading international practices allows us to provide as much material as possible for repurpose.” Jed Van Iersel, Decommissioning Manager, Liberty Industrial. 

Reuse and recycling rates for metals continue to rise.  

With an impressive track record of 95-98% recycling rates, Liberty Industrial successfully dismantled and sold more than 100,000 tonnes of material in 2023 across Australia, the United Kingdom and New Zealand. The materials were sourced from a diverse range of closure projects in oil and gas, mining, defence and energy. The expectation for 2024 is for an increase to 150,000 tonnes. 

To facilitate the increasing volume of material, particularly in oil and gas site closures, Liberty Industrial utilises its expertise in the development of onshore facilities specifically dedicated to the efficient dismantling, decontamination and distribution of scrap and other waste streams for recycling and reuse.  

Subsequently, the sale of the materials for recycling both supports the circular economy and ensures the outputs are well-documented.  

Advancements in innovation to help reduce landfill.

For Liberty Industrial, a culture centred on innovation enables them to introduce new solutions in technology, processing capabilities and methodologies. These advancements expand the range of recyclable materials, thereby increasing recycling rates. 

“Liberty Industrial is focused on upcoming studies in several landfill reduction strategies. This includes areas such as marine growth recycling and sustainable onsite NORM and Mercury decontamination”, said Jed. 

In addition, plastics are notoriously difficult to recycle due to their composition, contamination and processing limitations. Liberty Industrial and strategic partner Hayes Metals have developed improvements to plastic recycling rates using new technology to separate polymer waste streams for reuse purposes such as plastic molds for batteries in EV cars. 

Given the volume of considerations to achieve maximum efficiency targets, it’s clear that thorough and considered planning is vital in achieving the best measurable outcomes for oil and gas closure projects. 

“The benefits in operational improvements, innovative solutions and positive environmental outcomes, together with the ability to articulate these positive impacts can actively support oil and gas companies and their stakeholders advancing toward in their journey to net zero.” said Jed Van Iersel.

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