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MPhil in Engineering for Sustainable Development

global challenges, engineering solutions

Addressing the Socioeconomic Implications of the Decommissioning and Closure of Large Oil and Gas Projects

The decommissioning and closure of large oil and gas fields present many challenging problems. One of them is the post-closure socioeconomic degradation of neighbouring communities. The wellbeing of the people in these communities is essentially an external cost to the production of hydrocarbons. This issue has not been widely researched in the oil and gas industry context, but other industries, which face the same problem, have gathered a wealth of knowledge on the topic in the recent years.

The aim of this dissertation is to study the ways of addressing the socioeconomic implications of the decommissioning and closure of large oil and gas projects through the lens of mining and nuclear power industries, and to identify the roles of different stakeholders in mitigating this problem. This goal is achieved through the systematic secondary review of best practice guides and case studies.

The analysis in this dissertation revealed that the best practice guides from these three industries highlight the same core mitigation approaches, such as early planning, stakeholder engagement, and clear post-closure vision. However, these approaches are inapplicable to the existing projects where decommissioning was not considered as part of the project in the initial planning process. Additionally, the analysis of case studies revealed that not all facets of the problem are covered in those best practice guides.

On this basis, a set of recommendations is proposed to different actors in the industry: governments; oil and gas companies; non-governmental organizations and the academic community.


Course Overview


The need to engage in better problem definition through careful dialogue with all stakeholder groups and a proper recognition of context.


An ability to work with specialists from other disciplines and professional groups acknowledging that technical innovation and business skills also must be understood, nurtured and combined as precursors to the successful implementation of sustainable solutions.


An understanding of mechanisms for managing change in organisations so future engineers are equipped to play a leadership role.


An awareness of a range of assessment frameworks, sustainability metrics and methodologies such as Life Cycle Analysis, Systems Dynamics, Multi-Criteria Decision making and Impact Assessment.