Fairfield and partner MCX Dunlin (a subsidiary of Mitsubishi) plan to start a decommissioning program for the Dunlin, Dunlin SW, Merlin and Osprey fields, subject to consultations with Britain’s Department of Energy and Climate Change, Oil and Gas Authority, and other regulatory bodies. Fairfield acquired the fields from Shell and its partners in April 2008.
The Dunlin Alpha platform has remained fully manned and operational, exporting third-party oil into the Brent system pipeline. Fairfield expects the phased decommissioning process to last several years with high offshore activity levels maintained throughout.
Shell started production from the Dunlin field in August 1978, with peak output of around 120,000 b/d in 1979. The location is 500 km (310 mi) northeast of Aberdeen in the East Shetland basin and 11.2 km (7 mi) from the median line with Norway.
To date the Dunlin field cluster has produced more than 522 MMbbl, extending the platform’s original 25-year design life by 12 years.
Since acquiring the asset, Fairfield has brought in new technology and implemented operational and efficiency improvements, resulting in the lifetime extension. These include completion of a rehabilitation campaign to re-start production from Osprey and installation of electric submersible pumps in a depleted area of the Dunlin main field.
In 2012, the company commissioned a 3D seismic survey so support subsurface work designed to evaluate new drilling opportunities from the platform and on near-field opportunities that could be developed as subsea tiebacks.
Fairfield estimates the decommissioning costs at around $600 million.