Shell Brent Oil Field Decommissioning; How Will It Be Done?

Published at 04:06PM - 04/08/16

The mighty Shell Brent Field decommissioning process is already well under way, as the oil and gas field has started to reach the end of its production live.

The field that gave its name to Europe’s oil price benchmark, will soon be removed from the above the crest of the North Sea’s crashing waves, after more than 40 years since it began production in 1976.

Brent Platforms Shutdown

To date, of the four oil platforms in the field, the Brent Alpha and Brent Delta have ceased all production, leaving only the Bravo and Charlie still producing.

Shell Brent Delta Is To Be Decommissioned
Shell Brent Delta Is First To Be Decommissioned

The Brent Delta was the first in the field to be shutdown, back in December 2011. Well plug and abandonment operations started in earnest, whilst the removal of much of the production pipework and systems  was carried out simultaneously. 

Brent Field Decommissioning

It will be recognised as one of the first large-scale projects to dismantle a depleted oil field in the North Sea, surpassing the complexity of decommissioning of the Shell Indefatigable field back in 2009.

Delta’s topside will be removed by the giant Allseas’ Pioneering Spirit, a heavy lift vessel especially designed and built for the decommissioning of the Europe’s North Sea Sectors.

Allseas' Pioneering Spirit Decommissioning Vessel
Allseas’ Pioneering Spirit Decommissioning Vessel

When complete, the Delta topsides will represent the heaviest lift ever undertaken in the North Sea and is expected to increase the speed of decommissioning across the region.

Decommissioning Policy

Unlike previous decommissioning that’s taken place across the North Sea’s southern sectors, three of the Brent field’s platforms have been built using concrete subsea structures called CONDEEP. As well as acting as the platforms legs, these subsea structures have also been used over the platforms lifetimes as storage for both oil and hazardous waste production by product, presenting further challenges for Shell’s engineering team.

As part of the process, Shell has had to prepare and submit its recommendations for entire Brent field decommissioning project  to the UK Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC).

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