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Decommissioning the Brent field – photos and footage

Brent decommissioning website

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BEIS website with consultation document



About the Brent field

  • The joint owners of the field are Shell U.K. Limited (50% and operator) and Esso Exploration and Production UK Limited (50%). 
  • The Brent field, which is 115 miles (186km) north-east of the Shetland Islands in the northern North Sea, was discovered in 1971 and started to produce in 1976. It was one of several large fields to come on stream amidst two global oil crises, in 1973 and 1979. It helped to meet a shortage of energy supply and turn the UK into a net exporter of oil. 
  • Since 1976, Brent has produced around three billion barrels of oil equivalent – almost 10% of UK production.
  • At its peak in 1982, it was producing more than half a million barrels a day – enough to meet the energy needs of around half of all UK homes for that year.
  • The one billionth barrel of oil was produced from the Brent Field in March 1987. 
  • In the 1990s, the life of the field was extended through redevelopment and depressurisation that meant it could produce gas rather than oil. This cost £1.2 billion and provided jobs for more than 3,000 people.
  • The Brent field has been groundbreaking in many ways. At one time it had the UK’s longest subsea pipeline and in the 1990s was the world’s largest oil field to be depressurised.
  • By 2001, the Brent field was yielding record levels of gas production; 25.5 million cubic metres per day.
  • The redevelopments, planning and commitment of everyone involved led to Brent’s pre-eminence in the UK sector of the North Sea. It has even given its name to the oil benchmark that is used to price two-thirds of the world’s internationally traded crude oil.

Brent’s contribution to the UK economy

  • In its lifetime, Brent has generated over £20 billion in tax revenues in today’s money for the UK Government. 
  • The Brent field has supported tens of thousands of highly skilled jobs, and the UK’s oil and gas supply chain generally. This has helped many UK companies enter the global oil and gas marketplace. At the time of its early development, Brent was one of the deepest offshore oil fields in the world. The skills gained by UK companies in its supply chain have now been exported globally.

About Brent decommissioning

  • Brent is one of the largest fields in the North Sea and one of the most complex to be decommissioned – with four platforms, 154 wells and 28 pipelines.
  • Shell has consulted extensively with many stakeholders since 2007 to achieve the most appropriate solution. More than 300 studies have been carried out and Shell received input from around 180 organisations across Europe.
  • There are around1,000 skilled people offshore, plus further people onshore, working on the decommissioning of the Brent field, including many engineers.
  • Shell will share the insights and experience gained through this project to help the wider industry.
  • A previous consultation process took place in 2015, which covered the removal of the 24,200 tonne topside of the Brent Delta platform.
  • Work on this is already underway with the Brent Delta topside lift expected to take place in the summer of 2017.
  • The Brent Delta topside will be removed in a single lift operation by the maritime company Allseas, which has developed the world’s largest vessel specifically for work of this kind.
  • The topside will be taken to Able UK, a specialised decommissioning company in Teeside, where more than 97% of the material will be reused or recycled.