Brent Delta topside decommissioning programme
Following a thirty day public consultation in early 2015, the decommissioning programme submitted by Shell U.K. Limited (Shell) for the Brent Delta platform (one of four installations located in the field) recommending that the 24,200 tonne ’topside’ of the platform is removed in one piece by a heavy-lift dedicated vessel was approved by the UK Government in July 2015.
The approval is a milestone for the project which began in 2006 and has seen engagement with stakeholders from over 180 organisations, including NGOs, academic institutions and independent scientific experts.
Work continues offshore to strengthen the topside in anticipation of a 2017 lift. This will be carried out on completion of thorough preparations and weather assessments and 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.
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. Close engagement with Allseas Group S.A. and Able UK has been paramount throughout the planning and into this next phase of work as we prepare for the lift.
A second decommissioning programme for the remaining infrastructure in the Brent Field, including Brent Delta’s gravity based structure, three other platforms, 140 wells and 28 pipelines, will be submitted at a later date and will be subject to a separate consultation. It is the intent to deliver a programme that is safe, technically achievable, environmentally sound and financially responsible.
Brent Delta stopped production in 2011 and Brent Alpha and Bravo ceased in November 2014. Production from the field continues through Brent Charlie.
Next steps for the Brent Field decommissioning
Shell is now carefully planning the Brent field’s decommissioning process according to a tightly defined regulatory process.
Our task is to find a way to carry out this work that will:
- Ensure the safety of people working on the project
- Have minimal impact on the environment
- Be technically achievable
- Consider the impact on affected communities, and
- Be economically responsible
We have also been carrying out a thorough and transparent process of in-depth consultation with interested parties, as well as with technical specialists and experts from across the industry. Different risks, challenges and benefits have been considered and we have listened to many diverse points of view. Having explored many options, our recommendations will be contained in a decommissioning programme and will be submitted to the UK Government’s Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) for approval.
Why decommission Brent Field?
The Brent oil and gas field, lying north-east of the Shetland Islands, has been a cornerstone of the UK’s hugely successful oil and gas industry for almost 40 years. It has created and sustained thousands of jobs, contributed billions of pounds in tax revenues, and provided the UK with a substantial amount of its oil and gas.
Now, after many years of service to the UK, the Brent field is reaching the stage where almost all the available reserves of oil and gas have been retrieved. The next step in the lifecycle is to retire or ‘decommission’ the Brent field’s four platforms and their related infrastructure. This will be a complex, major engineering project and will take over ten years to complete.