Decommissioning of energy installations has become one of the major aspects of the energy business, in particular for the many players in the offshore oil and gas industry and more recently the offshore energy (wind, wave and tidal) industry. It is an expensive operation and it raises major engineering, operational, financial, planning, safety and environmental concerns. Accordingly, decommissioning requires an understanding of the financial, legal, technical, environmental and safety obligations within the national legal framework, and also the regional and international regulatory framework.

The regulatory authority on decommissioning of the energy installations on the UKCS is the DTI (now renamed as the Department for Business, Enterprise & Regulatory Reform –DBERR). DBERR has launched a consultation on the changes to the offshore decommissioning regimes for oil and gas installations in the Petroleum Act 1998 and for renewable energy installations in the Energy Act 2004. The consultation commenced on 21 June 2007 and will close on 13 September 2007. The Government will thereafter issue a formal response on the consultation. The consultation document and response form are available on the DTI website at

Our team is participating in the decommissioning consultation, and would like to hear your views on the government's regulatory framework.

Members of our team attended a meeting at DBERR on 4 July 2007 to discuss various aspects of the consultation. Key issues discussed included financial security; the categories of responsible persons (including Limited Liability Partnerships); decommissioning liability for pipelines; information seeking powers; safeguarding of funds from insolvency legislation; cross industry cooperation and risk impact assessments.

Both Shepherd and Wedderburn's oil and gas and renewables teams have expert knowledge of the regulatory framework which governs decommissioning, and experience of decommissioning from working in-house and from acting for key players in the industry.

We are arranging a round table discussion on the status of decommissioning in the UKCS with some of the key people in the industry and we shall report in a later edition on some of the themes discussed at that event. Additionally, you are invited to attend our next seminar on decommissioning on 18 September 2007 at the Ardoe House Hotel in Aberdeen.