The decommissioning programme, submitted by Shell, for the Brent Delta platform (one of four installations located in the field) recommends that the 23,500 tonne ’topside’ of the platform is removed in one piece by a heavy-lift dedicated vessel that arrived in Rotterdam in January. Work is underway to strengthen the topside in anticipation of the lift, which will be one of the heaviest the North Sea has ever seen.  This single lift technique will substantially reduce the risk, cost and environmental impact of the operation.

If the decommissioning programme is formally approved by the Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC), the  topside will be taken to Able UK, a specialised decommissioning company in Teesside, where more than 97% of the material will be reused or recycled.

Alistair Hope, Brent Decommissioning Project Director, Shell, said: “The Brent field has been a prolific national asset for many years, creating and sustaining thousands of jobs and contributing billions of pounds to the UK government. The engineering and planning skills which led to the discovery and subsequent successful production of oil and gas over four decades are essential during decommissioning, which is the natural next stage of the field’s life. We hope many people will play an active part in the consultation.”   

A second decommissioning programme for the remaining infrastructure in the Brent field, including Brent Delta’s legs, three other sets of topsides and legs, 140 wells and 28 pipelines, will be submitted when Shell is confident the proposals are safe, technically achievable, environmentally sound and financially responsible. It will be subject to a separate consultation. Brent Delta stopped production in 2011 and Brent Alpha and Bravo ceased in November 2014. Production from the field continues through Brent Charlie.

Stakeholders from over 180 organisations, including NGOs, academic institutions including the University of Aberdeen and independent scientific experts have been engaged in the development of the Decommissioning Programmes since 2007. 

Notes to editors

For more information please contact Shell Media Relations: +44(0)207 934 5550.

Download images and aerial footage of Brent Platforms

Visit the Brent Decommissioning website to find out more

Download the Decommissioning the Brent field broacher for further background

‘Topsides’ refers to the section of the platform that sits on legs above the water.

Details of the consultation are available on the DECC website.

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About the Brent field

  • The joint owners of the field are Shell U.K. Limited (50% and operator) and Esso Exploration and Production UK Limited (50%). 
  • The Brent field, which is 115miles (186km) East of Lerwick in the northern North Sea, was discovered in 1971 and started to produce in 1976. It was one of several large fields to come on stream amidst two global oil crises, in 1973 and 1979. It helped to meet a shortage of energy supply and turn the UK into a net exporter of oil. 
  • Since 1976, Brent has produced around four billion barrels of oil equivalent – almost 10% of UK production.
  • At its peak in 1982, it was producing more than half a million barrels a day – enough to meet the energy needs of around half of all UK homes for that year.
  • In the 1990s, the life of the field was extended through redevelopment and depressurisation that meant it could produce gas rather than oil. This cost £1.2 billion and provided jobs for more than 3,000 people.
  • It has been ground breaking in many ways, including having the UK’s longest subsea pipeline at the time and undergoing the world’s largest oil field depressurisation in the 1990s.

About Brent decommissioning

  • Brent is one of the largest fields in the North Sea and one of the most complex to be decommissioned – with four platforms, more than 140 wells and 28 pipelines.
  • Shell has consulted extensively – and continues to consult - with many stakeholders since 2007 to achieve the most appropriate solution. More than 300 studies have been carried out and Shell received input from more than 400 stakeholders from approx. 180 organisations.
  • There are about 1,000 skilled people offshore, plus further people onshore, working on the decommissioning of the Brent field, including many engineers.
  • Shell will share the insights and experience gained through this project to help the wider industry.

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