Oil major Royal Dutch Shell on Wednesday submitted its decommissioning program for the Brent oil and gas field, in the UK sector of the North Sea, to the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS).
Following the submission of the plan, the company said that an extended 60-day public consultation on recommendations to decommission the Brent field started on Wednesday.
The Shell-operated field, located 115 miles north-east of the Shetland Islands has produced around three billion barrels of oil equivalent since production started in 1976, which is almost 10% of UK production.
According to the company, the Brent decommissioning program recommends that the upper steel jacket on the Brent Alpha platform is removed, along with the topsides of the four Brent platforms, debris lying on the seabed, and the attic oil contained within the concrete storage cells of the gravity base structures.
The program will also recommend that the three gravity base structures, Brent Alpha footings, the sediment contained within the concrete storage cells of the gravity base structures (Brent Bravo, Brent Charlie and Brent Delta), and the drill cuttings piles remain in place. This recommendation will require consultation with and support of the OSPAR Commission, the body established under the OSPAR Convention to protect the marine environment of the North-East Atlantic. A range of options are outlined in the decommissioning plan to deal with the 28 pipelines connected to the Brent field.
Following conclusion of the public consultation period, the recommendations will be considered by BEIS, alongside consultation responses. Providing BEIS accepts the recommendations, it will then seek the support for the necessary derogations from the OSPAR Commission on Shell’s behalf, the company said.
“After an extensive and in-depth study period, the submission of Shell’s Brent decommissioning program marks another important milestone in the history of the Brent oil and gas field,” said Duncan Manning, Brent Decommissioning Asset Manager.
“Shell has undertaken thorough analysis, extensive scientific research and detailed consultation with over 180 stakeholder organisations over the past 10 years. Working within the tightly defined regulatory process, we believe that our recommendations are safe, technically achievable, environmentally sound and financially responsible. Shell encourages all those with an interest in the decommissioning of the Brent field to review, reflect on and respond to this consultation document.”
Production from Brent Delta ceased in 2011 and from Brent Alpha and Brent Bravo in November 2014. Production from the field will continue, via Brent Charlie, for several years to come.
Work to prepare for Brent decommissioning started in 2006. Shell stated that more than 300 expert studies have been completed and the results analysed and verified by a group of independent scientists. Shell has also engaged with around 400 stakeholders, including NGOs, academics and key interest groups, including but not limited to the Scottish Fishermen’s Federation.
Brent as ‘leading light’
Oil & Gas UK, the country’s offshore oil and gas industry association, has welcomed the launch of consultation for the Brent decommissioning plan.
Deirdre Michie, Oil & Gas UK’s chief executive, said: “For more than 40 years, Brent has been a leading light in the UK’s industrial success story, contributing almost 10 per cent of the region’s oil and gas, delivering billions of pounds to the UK economy and supporting tens of thousands of highly skilled jobs. Today’s announcement opening the consultation for Shell’s Brent Decommissioning Plan is another milestone in this story, broadening the reach of public stakeholder engagement that has already taken place, as this iconic field moves into the next stage of its lifecycle.
“Ground-breaking ingenuity was required to bring the Brent field, located in the deep waters of the northern North Sea, into production and these skills will be required into the future as industry seeks to maximize economic recovery of the UK’s oil and gas alongside delivering decommissioning in a safe, environmentally responsible, and cost-efficient way.”