Skip to content


PML in the media: BBC Rare Earth - ‘Can an oil rig be a nature reserve?’

28 June 2024

PML’s Professor Matt Frost featured on BBC Rare Earth today (28th June) discussing the problem faced by governments across the world... with around 12,000 offshore oil and gas platforms globally nearing the end of their working lives, what should we do with these gargantuan structures? 

Listen to the episode on BBC Sounds >> 

Episode description:

What should we do with our old oil rigs? Can the relics of the fossil fuel age be good for wildlife? Helen Czerski and Tom Heap investigate the future for the steel and concrete that's fuelled the modern age. Helen visits a highly specialist scrapyard on Teeside which dismantles oil rigs bought ashore at the end of their lives. Tom and Helen discuss whether the rules on what happens to old oil and gas installations in the North Sea should be relaxed to allow some to be turned into artificial reefs. They hear from Professor Matt Frost from Plymouth Marine Laboratory and INSITE, an international project investigating the future for undersea structures; Dr Alethea Madgett a marine ecologist who's researching how old rigs can be used in nature restoration; and Ricky Thomson from the industry body Offshore Energies UK.  

Listen to the episode on BBC Sounds >> 

In March this year, Professor Matt Frost and our late Professor Paul Somerfield were published in a comment article, where they stressed the need for ‘a review of decommissioning strategies [...] to ensure that governments make scientifically motivated decisions about the fate of oil rigs in their regions, rather than sleepwalking into default strategies that could harm the environment.’  

Read the full article here >>

Most of the team that contributed to this article also coordinated the recently completed Decommissioning - Relative Effects of Alternative Management Strategies (DREAMS) project. Find out more about the project and its findings in this short video: 

Share this story: