Oil platform to be turned into washing machines

THE 23,500-tonne oil platform of the Brent oil and gas field in the North Sea is to be recycled, it has been revealed.
Brent Alpha oil rig. Picture: SWNSBrent Alpha oil rig. Picture: SWNS
Brent Alpha oil rig. Picture: SWNS

Oil giant Shell is to begin a public consultation on plans to decommission the site and it is planned that more than 97 per cent of the material will be reused or recycled.

It is understood that the bulk of the steel will be sent to Turkey and turned into washing machines.

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The oil field, to the north-east of the Shetland Islands, has produced around 10 per cent of all UK North Sea oil and gas and more than £20 billion of tax revenue for the UK since production began in 1976.

Once the decommissioning programme is formally approved by the Department of Energy and Climate Change the topside – the section of the platform that sits on legs above the water will be dismantled by Able UK, a specialised decommissioning company based in Teesside.

The platform will be removed in one piece by a dedicated heavy-lift vessel, the world’s biggest platform vessel. Work is currently under way to strengthen the topside ahead of the lift, with several tonnes of steel plates being fixed to the platform before the procedure.

Alistair Hope, Shell Brent decommissioning project director, said: “The Brent field has been a prolific national asset for many years, creating and sustaining thousands of jobs and contributing billions of pounds to the UK government. The engineering and planning skills which led to the discovery and production of oil and gas over four decades are essential during decommissioning, which is the natural next stage of the field’s life. We hope many people will play an active part in the consultation.”

The news comes after Greenpeace slammed initial plans to dump the platform and associated infrastructure in the sea.

Greenpeace UK chief scientist Dr Doug Parr said: “By removing and towing to port the topside of the oil platform Shell is simply doing what international regulations and public opinion compel it to do. What’s more worrying is that nine years on from the decommissioning being announced, it is still not clear what will happen to the underwater parts of the rig.

“It’s clear from Shell’s reckless Arctic drilling programme that there are parts of the company who prioritise slashing costs and cutting corners over responsible behaviour, so we’re going to keep a close watch on this process.”

A second decommissioning programme for the remaining infrastructure in the Brent field, including Brent Delta’s legs, three other sets of topsides and legs, 140 wells and 28 pipelines, is still to be submitted.

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Brent Delta stopped production in 2011 and Brent Alpha and Bravo in November 2014. Production continues through Brent Charlie.