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The Decommissioning Market
Making money by tearing things down.
By Mark Ingebretsen

Some of the largest markets for robotics aren’t always the most obvious.  Last November, for example, we ran a short news item about a marketing study detailing the cost of decommissioning oil rigs in the North Sea. The figure: a whopping $74 billion, according to the industry research group, Douglas Westwood.  Short working seasons and the area’s notoriously rough weather, would seemingly make this an ideal job for robots able to perform inspections and actual work.

Remember, however, that the North Sea is just one of myriad areas around the globe, where aging rigs need to be safely deactivated in order to prevent spills and other environmental hazards. So the total world market for decommissioning oil rigs – exact figures are hard to come by – is no doubt far larger. According to Douglas Westwood, 100 small platforms are decommissioned in the U.S. Gulf of Mexico each year.

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