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Monotower natural gas production

In 2006, Cutter began operating. It is the world's first offshore natural gas production platform powered by wind and solar. North Sea, UK.

Accessing oil and gas from small dispersed reservoirs is particularly challenging.

Traditional methods are costly and energy-intensive, making production from smaller pockets uneconomical. One solution is to use a type of unmanned platform known as a monotower.

A monotower is made of steel and stands on a single leg about 65m tall from the seabed. A single pile 4.25m in diameter and 35m deep into the sea floor supports the structure.

Monotowers produce their own energy through solar panels and wind turbines. A monotower runs on just 1.2 kilowatts of power.

Conventional methods, such as cable, a diesel generator or gas engines usually provide up to 30 kilowatts to power a platform of this type.

We started operating our Cutter monotower in the North Sea in 2006. It is the first offshore natural gas production platform of its kind. In the North Sea, we have installed six monotowers in total and sold the licence for one more.

Shell is using elements of the monotowers technology again in the next set of even smaller and lower cost developments. Requiring less steel and materials, monotowers cost less than a third of most designs used a decade ago.

They are also cheaper to operate with virtually no operational costs apart from platform maintenance needed only every two years.

We monitor and control gas production from operation centres in Bacton, UK, and Den Helder, the Netherlands, as well as from nearby offshore platforms.