A growing number of oil and gas platforms and facilities around the world are aging and approaching the end of their productive lives. As a result, decommissioning is set to become increasingly prevalent over the next few decades.

Safe and responsible decommissioning is a priority for Shell. This includes restoring the surroundings of platforms and facilities in line with relevant legislation, while taking our own environmental standards into account.

Sharing expertise and technology

The way we carry out decommissioning projects differs from site to site and across regions. Our approach depends on factors such as the types of structure, their age and location, and technical challenges. In many cases we apply proven technologies, but opportunities may also exist to make use of new engineering techniques.

Decommissioning requires significant investment. It can involve employing many contractors or suppliers with the specialist skills needed to dismantle and dispose of platforms and facilities. We believe that collaborating with others, in the industry and with governments, can help to ease this burden by enabling the sharing of knowledge; and enabling access to equipment and services across regions.

Advanced engineering

The Pioneering Spirit lifting vessel
The Pioneering Spirit. Image: Allseas

Our largest decommissioning project is taking place in the Brent oil and gas field, in the UK North Sea. Shell has worked on a new engineering approach to remove the Brent Delta platform’s 24,200-tonne topsides – its deck, including an accommodation block, helipad, drilling and other operational areas – in one lift.

Swiss-based company Allseas has designed and commissioned a new type of vessel, named “Pioneering Spirit”, for the lifting operation. Removing the topsides in one piece will involve less risk, environmental impact and cost than other more traditional decommissioning techniques.

Once the topsides have been removed, more than 97% of their materials will be recycled. Some of the steel has been donated to a local railway project to make a small footbridge in Aberdeenshire, Scotland, for example.

Read more about Brent decommissioning – opens in Shell.co.uk

Working with stakeholders

We engage widely with stakeholders. These can be individuals or groups that may either be affected by decommissioning activities, or have an interest in the decommissioning programme. Their expertise and feedback can contribute to the shaping of the design, planning and execution of decommissioning projects. Consultation can include discussions with government officials; non-governmental organisations; industry representatives; scientific institutions; and local communities, including fishing communities.

For example, since 2007 we have engaged with more than 180 separate stakeholder organisations as part of the Brent decommissioning project taking place in the UK North Sea. Their feedback and input will help inform our recommendations to the UK government.

A record-breaking offshore lift

How the 24,200-tonne Brent Delta platform was lifted and carried to an industrial recycling centre more than 700 kilometres away.  

Read the Inside Energy story

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