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.