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The regulation of offshore decommissioning is a complex subject that requires attention in relation to immediate practical problems, as well as long-term solutions that would address transparency and stability considerations.
Its defining moment came in the form of the Brent Spar episode during the 1980s which unveiled an emotive public clash between different stakeholders (including host governments, oil companies, environmental pressure groups, the fishing industry, shipping interests, and the general public) and the possibility of ""regulatory failure"".
This meant that external events could in certain extreme circumstances override lawfully sanctioned activities, and therefore that the removal and disposal of disused installations/pipelines would have to be consistent with international environmental standards and values. Sustainable development is the most widely accepted yardstick against which decommissioning regulations should be assessed.
This study on ""sustainable decommissioning"" looks forward to the next stage of the unfolding evolutionary process of decommissioning regulations.