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Sally Rouse


PDRA in oil and gas decommissioning

Summary of research interests

My research interests centre on problems in benthic ecology, marine biodiversity and the mitigation of anthropogenic impacts on the marine environment. Specifically, I am interested in the physical and chemical drivers of growth and productivity, and how these may be manipulated on artificial installations to maximise the benefit to coastal ecosystems. I also have wider interests in marine biodiversity, taxonomy and systematics.

At SAMS I am a member of the

I am also a user of the Institute's artificial reef


Education / career

PhD project

Understanding benthic productivity on artificial structures: maximising the benefits of marine renewable energy

Project description and objectives

Marine renewable energy devices (MRED) constitute artificial reefs and have the capacity to host biological assemblages that deliver ecological services. Understanding the performance of artificial reefs, in terms of productivity, has been identified as one of the pressing research needs in relation to the ecological impacts of offshore renewables and is of fundamental interest to my PhD.

Cuttings of the bioindicator bryozoan Flustra foliacea will be collected and redeployed to the Loch Linnhe Reef, a 6200 tonne multi-modular, purpose-built underwater experimental matrix located off the west coast of Scotland. Variations in the growth of these colonies will be linked to variations in the food supply, as a function of flow interactions and sedimentation on, or within, a single reef unit (e.g. height on the reef), and between different reef units.

Understanding the processes that govern the productivity associated with artificial structures will enable us to both predict the ecological consequences of deploying MRED and inform us how to modify proposed, or existing structures, in order to maximise their benefit to coastal ecosystems. Such an approach will mitigate against the potential loss of access (e.g. to fishermen) that may occur around offshore renewable devices.


  • Tom Wilding, Director of Studies, SAMS
  • Joanne Porter, Supervisor, Heriot Watt University


Project funder

MASTS Prize Studentship


University of the Highlands and Islands / University of Aberdeen


Optimising the decommissioning of oil and gas pipelines with respect to commercial fishing at the scale of the UK Continental Shelf

Oil and gas extraction and commercial fisheries are both spatially extensive industries on the UK Continental Shelf (UKCS). Inevitably, there is physical interaction where both activities coincide. Regular contact of pipelines with fishing gear may influence the integrity of the pipe and cause snagging of fishing gear.

This NERC-funded project will translate previous MSS/SAMS research, which quantified the overlap between fishing and pipelines on the UKCS, into an evidence base for implementing a strategic approach to pipeline decommissioning which accounts for pipe-specific interactions with fishing activity. We will subsequently use this information to predict the impact of various decommissioning scenarios on the fishing industry.  The work will also provide a framework for adopting a risk-based approach to monitoring the integrity of pipelines following decommissioning, according to the level of fisheries interaction. Finally, this project will consider the decommissioning of pipelines within the scale and context of other offshore activities that occur on the UKCS.

This project will be hosted by Marine Scotland Science and represents an on-going collaboration between the Scottish Government and SAMS. The UK Department of Energy and Climate Change, the Scottish Fishermen’s Federation and Oil and Gas UK will be involved as end users of the project results.



  • NERC Oil and Gas Innovation Grant
my contact details

Sally Rouse SAMS

Sally Rouse
T: +44 (0) 1631 559 278
Scottish Marine Institute
Oban, Argyll PA37 1QA, UK

Contact us
Scottish Marine Institute
Oban, Argyll, PA37 1QA
T: 01631 559000
F: 01631 559001