Green light to Shell for decommissioning of Brent pipelines

Oil major Shell has received approval from the UK authorities for its decommissioning plan for the Brent field pipelines located in the UK North Sea. 

Layout of facilities in the Brent field; Source: Shell

The owners of the infrastructure are Shell, which is also the operator, with a 50% interest, and ExxonMobil with a 50% interest.

The Brent field is located in the East Shetland Basin in Block 211/29, midway between the Shetland Islands and Norway.

The field is part of the extensive oil and gas infrastructure which has been established over the last 40 years in the East Shetland Basin; there are 11 platforms, 3 floating installations, 17 templates and 4 subsea clusters within 25 km of the Brent locations.

Through the Brent field pipelines decommissioning program, the owners are seeking approval to decommission the Brent field pipelines and four subsea structures in a phased program of work, planned to be completed by about 2024.

Under the plan, the pipelines will be removed to shore for recycling/disposal, trench/backfill, and buried pipelines will be left in situ. Overall, the material covered in the pipeline decommissioning plan includes approximately 26,000 tonnes of steel, 22,000 tonnes of concrete, and 16,000 tonnes of rock-dump.

The Brent Field was discovered in 1971 and production started in 1976. At the time of its discovery, the expected lifespan of the Brent Field was 25 years. Through continuous improvement and significant investment in the 1990s, the life of the field was extended well beyond original expectations. After many years of service to the UK, however, the Brent field is now reaching the stage where all the economically recoverable reserves of oil and gas have been extracted. The next step is to decommission the field’s four platforms and their related infrastructure.

Since 2007, Shell has been working on the long-term planning necessary to stop production and decommission the Brent field. Three of the four Brent platforms have now ceased production.

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