Where is the Brent Field?

The Brent Field is situated 186km (116 miles) offshore, north-east of Lerwick, Scotland, at a water depth of 140m (460ft), and consists of four large platforms; Alpha, Bravo, Charlie and Delta. 

When did it start production and what has been the production during its lifetime?

The Brent Field was discovered in 1971. Oil production began in 1975, and continued until 2001. Then, following a £1.2 billion Long-Term Field Development (LTFD) project in the mid 1990s, Brent became predominantly a gas field. The Brent Field has been in service for the UK for more than 35 years and it has produced around 2 billion barrels of oil and 5.7 trillion cubic feet of gas (2008), a total of some 3 billion barrels of oil equivalent.

How much oil and gas has been recovered from Brent?

It has produced around 2 billion barrels of oil and 5.7 trillion cubic feet of gas (2008), a total of some 3 billion barrels of oil equivalent.

What have Shell done to maximize the production potential of Brent?

Shell will be recovering all the oil and gas that is technically and economically viable.

Following a £1.2 billion Long-Term Field Development (LTFD) project in the mid 1990s, Brent became predominantly a gas field. This considerably extended its life. This Long-Term Field Development (LTFD) project was the largest and most comprehensive field redevelopment ever undertaken in the UK North Sea. More recently, advances in technology have made possible the development of the challenging satellite Penguins field, some 65km to the North.

It has seen very high levels of hydrocarbon recovery and it has been in service for more than three decades, exceeding its original planned lifetime by many years. It continues to produce today, and will do so for some years to come.

What is decommissioning?

Decommissioning is the process by which options for the physical removal and disposal of structures at the end of their working life are assessed; a plan of action is formulated by the operator, approved by government and then implemented. The overall timescale for this is several years, as it needs to take into account many diverse factors and involves many organisations.

How long will decommissioning of the Brent facilities take?

Decommissioning is a multi-phase, multi-year process. Shell and Esso began the long-term planning necessary for the final phase of Brent and Penguins field life in 2006. We recognised then that this is a huge, complex and technically challenging undertaking that is likely to span more than a decade from the time the first platform [Brent Delta] commences decommissioning.

Why does Brent have to be decommissioned?

As Brent continues to produce, the field depletes and, over many years of production, has moved from providing some 10% of the UK’s gas consumption to around 2%. We are at stage when the flow of oil and gas from Brent Delta has reached a point at which it is no longer viable to run the field.

When will the Brent platforms cease production?

The final Cessation of Production (CoP) dates for the Brent facilities will be based on a range of operational and market factors, such as commodity prices and capital and operating costs. The Brent Delta platform reached CoP in December 2011 and Alpha and Bravo reached CoP in November 2014.

What happens to the Brent pipeline system, which exports oil from other fields?

The Brent system will continue to operate, as will the FLAGS gas export system.

What happens to the Brent crude marker price once the Brent Field is decommissioned?

Dated Brent/BFOE reference price already refers to a number of crudes i.e. Brent, Forties, Oseberg and Ekofisk.  Brent makes up a decreasing and small amount of North Sea production (currently around 1%) and is the lowest volume grade in the BFOE pool of grades.

When eventually Brent ceases to produce, the marker crude price for the North Sea will continue but it may relate to a reduced pool of grades or different basket of crudes and the name may change This will be a matter for industry to decide in due course. However expect BFOE or a version thereof to continue as the marker crude.

How much will Brent decommissioning cost?

Depending on the final scope / options for the project it is expected that the costs will be several billion pounds. A more accurate estimate will be possible once all aspects of the decommissioning programme have been determined.

What will happen to redundant pipelines?

It is too early to say, as decommissioning options are still being studied and no decisions have yet been made. Shell will be taking account of the safety risks, engineering challenges, and societal and environmental impacts and financial considerations, to find balanced solutions.

Will the facilities come ashore? If so where?

Able UK in Teesside has been awarded a contract to reuse and recycle materials from the topsides. There is a target of at least 97% reuse and recycling for all topsides material.

What is the process for the decommissioning programme?

Further information on the process for the decommissioning programme can be found in the UK Department for Energy and Climate Change Guidance for Decommissioning of Offshore Installations and Pipelines under the Petroleum Act 1998.

What is OSPAR Convention and what does it state w.r.t. Decommissioning?

The OSPAR Convention is the current legal instrument guiding international cooperation on the protection of the marine environment of the North-East Atlantic. Work under the Convention is managed by the OSPAR Commission, made up of representatives of the Governments of 15 Contracting Parties and the European Commission, representing the European Community. [Source OSPAR web site].

The 1992 OSPAR Convention for the Protection of the Marine Environment of the North-East Atlantic (OSPAR)

The ‘1992 OSPAR Convention’ replaced both the Oslo and Paris Conventions, with the intention of providing a comprehensive and simplified approach to addressing all sources of pollution which might affect the maritime area.

OSPAR 98/3 OSPAR Decision on the disposal of disused offshore installations was passed at Ministerial Meeting of the OSPAR Commission, Sintra; 22-23 July, 1998.

OSPAR Decision 98/3 decision indicates:– Prohibits dumping of offshore installations at sea (Article 2 “the dumping, and leaving wholly or partly in place, of disused offshore installations within the maritime area is prohibited.” This is adopted in the applicable UK legislation).

Presumption that offshore installations will be removed entirely.

Recognises difficulties removing footings of steel jackets >10,000 tonnes (pre 1999), and concrete substructures, and therefore allows for derogation from Decision 98/3.

Derogations will be assessed on a case by case basis.

Who approves the decommissioning programme?

The UK Government Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) is the competent authority on decommissioning in the UK.