What is in the Brent Field Decommissioning Programmes document?
Shell has been preparing for the following decommissioning activities:
- plugging and making safe the 154 wells across the Brent Field;
- removing to shore, and recycling the platform’s topsides;
- recovering oil and gas debris from the seabed across the Brent Field;
- removing the oil –known as ‘attic oil’ – trapped at the top of some of the subsea storage cells; and
- cutting the upper portion of the Brent Alpha steel jacket, and removing to shore for recycling.
After completing the comparative assessment process of feasible decommissioning options, and as a result of careful and considered evaluation, the recommendations being proposed include leaving in place the Gravity Base Structures (GBS), Brent Alpha footings, the drill cuttings and GBS cell contents.
A range of options have been considered for the 28 pipelines, including: complete removal; cutting and sealing the ends; leaving in place with a covering of rock; and leaving in place after trenching and burying.
Where the Decommissioning Programmes recommend leaving some of the infrastructure in place, the UK Government will then consult with other countries that are signatories to the OSPAR Convention. The OSPAR convention is an agreement between 15 European countries and the EU to protect the marine environment in the North-East Atlantic. The UK must consult with other members of OSPAR if it is considering approval to leave any infrastructure in the North Sea.
OSPAR recognises that there are difficulties associated with removing major installations, such as concrete Gravity Base Structures and large steel jackets. In these instances, operators may make a case for exemption – or derogation – from the general rule of complete removal from the sea but they must demonstrate that there are significant reasons why an alternative option is preferable to reuse, recycling or final disposal on land.
Shell and Esso are confident the proposals set out in the DP document are safe, technically achievable, financially and socially responsible, and environmentally sound. These recommendations are the result of 10 years of review and planning, including extensive research involving engineering studies, independent experts’ input, consultations and scientific assessments.
Under current legislation, Shell and Esso will retain ownership of and responsibility for any remaining facilities after decommissioning.
Who has Shell engaged with?
Since 2007 Shell has conducted extensive stakeholder engagement, and received input from more than 400 individuals from more than 180 organisations in the UK and Europe.
In addition, the Brent Decommissioning project established an expert panel of scientists, the Independent Review Group (IRG), to verify the technical and engineering studies that were used to develop our proposals.
Find out more about the role of the IRG and read their final report on the project.
Brent Field Decommissioning Programme and Supporting Documentation