Source: Environmental Protection Authority
14 September 2021
Public submissions are now open on a marine consent application for activities associated with decommissioning the Tui oil field off the coast of Taranaki.
The Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment (MBIE) decommissioning proposal involves the removal of subsea infrastructure and the plugging, and abandoning, of eight wells.
MBIE seeks a marine consent for the following:
- retrieval of production flowlines, umbilicals, and gas-lift coil tubing from the seabed
- retrieval of mid-water arches and gravity bases
- retrieval of miscellaneous subsea equipment (gas-lift jumpers, hydraulic flying leads, electric flying leads, gas lift manifold, hold back anchors)
- installation of a mobile offshore drilling unit and its removal after the work has been carried out
- plugging and abandonment of wells.
If the marine consent is granted, MBIE anticipates the works will take place over two years during the summer months (December to April). This is to minimise exposure to delays caused by weather. The consent sought is until December 2030. This will allow environmental monitoring after the work has taken place and take into account any delays to the programme.
MBIE has also applied for a non-notified marine discharge consent for the discharge of harmful substances during decommissioning activities. This means the public cannot make a submission on the non-notified marine discharge consent application.
Anyone can make a submission on MBIE’s notified marine consent application. Submissions close on Wednesday 27 October 2021.
The EPA’s role in the process
A Board of Inquiry has been appointed by the Minister for the Environment to consider the notified marine consent application. The EPA provides process advice and administrative support to the Board. This ranges from managing the public notification and organising the logistics of any hearing, to commissioning specialist advice to assist the Board. The EPA has also delegated decision-making on the non-notified marine discharge consent application to this Board so both consents can be considered together.
The Tui oil field was previously owned and operated by Tamarind Taranaki Limited, which went into liquidation and receivership in December 2019. As a result, MBIE now has responsibility for decommissioning the field.
MBIE’s decommissioning programme comprises three phases over a four-year period from 2020-2023. Phase 1 was completed in May 2021 and involved disconnecting the Floating Production Storage and Offloading vessel Umuroa from the subsea infrastructure and retrieval of the anchors from the seabed. Phase 2 will involve removing the subsea infrastructure, and Phase 3 will entail plugging and abandonment of eight wells. Activities in Phase 2 and 3 require marine consent and marine discharge consent under the EEZ Act.