An extended 60-day public consultation on recommendations to decommission the Brent oil and gas field in the North Sea has begun following submission by Shell U.K. Limited, the field’s operator, of a comprehensive decommissioning programme to the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS). The field, located 115 miles north-east of the Shetland Islands has produced around three billion barrels of oil equivalent since production commenced in 1976, which is almost 10% of UK production.
The Brent decommissioning programme 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 programme will also recommend 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. This recommendation will 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. A range of options are outlined in the decommissioning plan to deal with the 28 pipelines connected to the Brent field.
Following conclusion of the public consultation period, the recommendations will be considered by BEIS, alongside consultation responses. Providing BEIS accepts the recommendations, it will then seek the support for the necessary derogations from the OSPAR Commission on Shell’s behalf.
Work to prepare for Brent decommissioning started in 2006. More than 300 expert studies have been completed and the results analysed and verified by a group of independent scientists. Shell has also engaged with around 400 stakeholders, including NGOs, academics and key interest groups, including but not limited to the Scottish Fishermen’s Federation.
Production from Brent Delta ceased in 2011 and from Brent Alpha and Brent Bravo in November 2014. Production from the field will continue, via Brent Charlie, for several years to come.