Photo: © Marten van Dijl / Greenpeace

Greenpeace strikes again in protest against Shell’s Brent decom plans

Greenpeace activists from Germany have launched a protest in the North Sea to call out Shell’s plans to abandon an estimated 11,000 tonnes of oil in the sea.

CREDIT © Marten van Dijl - Greenpeace
CREDIT © Marten van Dijl – Greenpeace

According to the environmental group’s statement from Wednesday, Greenpeace ship Esperanza approached the 500m exclusion zone of Shell’s platforms in the Brent oil field, off the Shetland Islands, with protestors on board waving banners calling on Shell to clean up its mess.

Greenpeace said that today’s protest also highlights how Shell is failing to take responsibility for its harmful impact on the environment.

Dr Christian Bussau, Greenpeace Germany marine biologist, said: “Shell still wants to cheaply dismantle the platforms, and the UK government is colluding with them to allow it.

“Shell’s profit-before-people business model is blocking an opportunity to create jobs to dispose of the 11,000 tonnes of oil and parts of the platform that must be removed in an environmentally friendly manner. Shell must urgently get out of the dirty oil and gas industry and pivot its business to renewable energy”.

Greenpeace claims that, according to Shell’s decommissioning proposals, it will leave behind the remains of four platforms in the Brent oil field.

Shell estimates three of those platforms contain 640,000 cubic metres of oily water and 40,000 cubic metres of oily sediment with a total content of more than 11,000 tonnes of oil.  

CREDIT © Marten van Dijl - Greenpeace
CREDIT © Marten van Dijl – Greenpeace

“While the rest of the world has moved on, Shell apparently still believes the world is its garbage dump, just as it did 25 years ago. If we don’t immediately transition to renewable energy we’re going to see more leaks and oil spills, more fossil fuel-driven inequality and more exacerbated extreme weather events like the floods, fires and storms we’re seeing everywhere. A just transition means governments turning their backs on fossil fuel and supporting workers into shifting to jobs with a future”, said Bussau.

In October last year, the member states of the OSPAR Commission (Convention for the Protection of the Marine Environment of the North-East Atlantic) met in London and discussed Shell’s plans, with the UK government indicating its approval.

The German government lodged an official objection. The EU Commission, Sweden, Belgium, Denmark, and the Netherlands also spoke out against leaving 11,000 tonnes of oil in the concrete tanks on the seafloor. But the final decision has been postponed and is pending.

“An approval from the member states would set a dangerous precedent for other oil companies and further the destruction of the North Sea”, Greenpeace concluded.

This is not the first time for Greenpeace activists to protest against Shell’s decommissioning plans for the Brent field.

Back in October 2019, Greenpeace activists from the Netherlands, Germany, and Denmark boarded two oil platforms on the Brent field.

Furthermore, in January 2020, activists from Extinction Rebellion movement blocked an entrance to Shell’s headquarters in Aberdeen, Scotland.

When it comes to Shell’s progress with decommissioning operations on the Brent field, Shell removed the Brent Alpha topsides and jacket in June and August, respectively.

The Brent Alpha platform was the third of four Brent field platforms to be removed from the field with Delta and Bravo decommissioned back in 2017 and 2019, respectively.

Production from the field continues through Brent Charlie, with Pioneering Spirit booked to remove the 34,000-t topsides when the platform finally ceases production.

Greenpeace activists have also recently occupied the Dan Bravo oil platform which is located in the Danish North Sea, demanding an immediate ban on all further oil and gas exploration in Denmark, followed by a complete phase-out of domestic fossil fuel production, and a massive expansion of clean offshore wind power.

Also, the environmental group said last week it had located two large methane leaks at an old offshore well site in the UK North Sea.

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