Perenco Faces Criticism Over Environmental and Safety Concerns

Perenco, the leading oil and gas infrastructure business in the North Sea, is currently being investigated due to concerns raised by experts over the risk of fires and environmental catastrophes. Records indicate that the corporation is not successfully completing the process of decommissioning its old oil wells within the designated timeframes, exceeding the deadlines by as much as ten years.

Perenco encountered substantial criticism last year following an oil spill from its Poole Harbour activities, which resulted in contamination of the Dorset site, an ecologically significant location of global importance. The leak had an impact on the local fauna, as confirmed by the RSPB, who observed birds covered in oil in the water. Perenco, in its response, made a commitment to assume financial responsibility for the damages and assured that similar instances would not happen again.

Nevertheless, a recent freedom of information request has unveiled that Perenco has consistently failed to meet government-imposed timelines for decommissioning its oil wells. Specifically, the company possesses a total of 363 offshore wells in the North Sea. The cost of decommissioning these old wells might reach up to £8 million per well. Detractors contend that the firm possesses a monetary motivation to prolong the process of decommissioning, hence jeopardising the potential for hazardous chemicals to seep into the water and atmosphere.

The data revealed 17 wells in which Perenco either sought extensions beyond the designated time or failed to meet the criteria for deactivation. On two occasions, deadlines were exceeded by over ten years. For example, a well located near the Anglia field was scheduled for closure in 2011, but as of July 2022, it had not undergone complete decommissioning. Another well located near the Indefatigable field, which was scheduled to be abandoned in 2009, is still incomplete.

Notwithstanding these challenges, Perenco has just entered into a fresh deal with the North Sea Transition Authority (NSTA) to cease operations at the wells by 2025. According to marine scientist David Santillo, Perenco’s inadequate decommissioning of old oilfields presents environmental risks, including the possibility of oil residue leaks and disastrous blowouts.

Perenco, a company owned by the wealthy Perrodo family, has been penalised for multiple violations, such as releasing 59 metric tonnes of gas into the atmosphere and neglecting to guarantee the absence of hydrocarbons during decommissioning operations. The company asserts that its safety record has consistently demonstrated progress and upholds a positive and transparent communication with the authorities.

The Perenco controversy highlights the necessity for rigorous controls and accountability in the oil and gas sector to safeguard the environment and guarantee public safety.