Environmentalists ‘reject’ Shell’s Brent decom plan

Environmental groups have “rejected” Shell’s plans regarding the decommissioning of the company’s four platforms at the Brent field, offshore the UK.

Shell submitted the plan in early February to the UK’s Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy. The 60-day public consultation expires today (Monday).

During the final day of the consultation period, the environmental groups the WWF, Greenpeace UK, the Marine Conservation Society, Friends of the Earth Scotland, KIMO, Whale and Dolphin Conservation, the Scottish Wildlife Trust, and RSPB Scotland have issued a joint statement rejecting the Brent decommissioning plan due to “insufficient information” provided by Shell.

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.

Shell’s 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 also recommends 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, under derogation from OSPAR Decision 98/3.

Shell in February highlighted that the recommendation to leave gravity based structure in place, would 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.

 

This is what the environmentalists have reminded of again saying that since 1998 the dumping, and leaving wholly or partly in place, of disused offshore installations is prohibited within certain sea areas, under OSPAR Decision 98/3 on the Disposal of Disused Offshore Installations. Under certain circumstances companies can seek permission to leave some installations in place.

According to OSPAR,  companies may apply to leave installations or parts of installations in place in the case of: steel installations weighing more than ten thousand tonnes in air;  gravity based concrete installations; floating concrete installations; any concrete anchor-base which results, or is likely to result, in interference with other legitimate uses of the sea.

Shell has applied for derogation (from the general rule of complete removal) for the each of the Brent Gravity Based Structures.

 

WWF Scotland director Lang Banks said: “Despite over 3,000 pages of documentation, it has not been possible to come to a view on Shell’s decommissioning proposal due to insufficient information being provided by the company across several key areas.

 

“The internationally agreed OSPAR rules set out very clear criteria and procedures for operators to follow in carrying out such assessments, but we do not believe they have not been fully adhered to in this case.

 

According to the statement released by WWF, Shell’s submitted material “cannot be clearly cross referenced to the OSPAR requirements meaning we cannot assess whether or not there is a solid case for the derogations sought by Shell.”

“We are therefore left with no choice but to reject Shell’s plans in their current state and have asked for key further information in order to adequately assess their proposals.

 

Responding to Offshore Energy Today’s request for comment, a Shell spokesperson said: “Shell welcomes the feedback, which has been received from stakeholders and members of the public during the 60-day public consultation period for the Brent field. The consultation concludes today and, over the coming weeks, we will continue to review and respond to the comments received.”

Offshore Energy Today Staff

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