Investigation launched after lifeboat plunges from Shell platform into the sea

Oil major Shell has launched an investigation after a lifeboat fell from the Brent Alpha platform in the UK North Sea. 

According to a report from BBC, the lifeboat fell from the platform into the sea during maintenance on Saturday when the clutch on the lifeboat’s launching mechanism slipped.

The lifeboat was recovered a day later, the news agency added.

Offshore Energy Today has reached out to Shell seeking confirmation of these reports and further details about the incident. 

A spokesperson for Shell confirmed that at approximately 1130 on Saturday, during some routine maintenance work on a lifeboat on the Brent Alpha a mechanical failure occurred allowing it to descend into the sea.

The spokesperson added: “The lifeboat was successfully retrieved in the early hours of this morning. The Coastguard has been informed of the situation.”

The Shell-operated Brent 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.

The Brent Alpha platform is currently being decommissioned as part of the Brent decommissioning program. The decom program for the Brent oil and gas field recommended the removal of the upper steel jacket on the Brent Alpha platform, 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.

Incidentally, Ampelmann, a solution provider for the offshore oil and gas industry, on Monday reminded that the oil and gas industry has just 18 months to upgrade critical release hook systems on offshore lifeboats to meet new regulations imposed by the International Maritime Organisation (IMO) to improve safety at sea.

Launched in 2011, the IMO regulations state that lifeboat release and retrieval systems must be evaluated and replaced no later than 1 July 2019. This will involve the complex and costly removal, retrofit and replacement of lifeboat systems globally, Ampelmann noted.

Lorenz Nehring, Ampelmann’s Business Development Manager UK, said: “The industry would be prudent to prepare and plan now to carry out the potentially risky operation of removing, upgrading and replacing lifeboat release and retrieval systems without affecting downtime and safety to personnel.”

Offshore Energy Today Staff

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