Decommissioning and restoration
When the facilities associated with oil and gas production reach the end of their economic and productive life, the operators must make sure that they are safely and properly shut down. This is called “decommissioning and restoration”.
The priority for Shell is for decommissioning and restoration activities to be carried out in safe, efficient, cost-effective and environmentally responsible manners.
Decommissioning and restoration includes:
- plugging and making safe wells;
- emptying and cleaning production systems;
- removing most or all of the facilities; and
- restoring the surrounding area
Shell has decommissioning experience around the world and has proven to be a competent D&R executor and credible partner for regulators, contractors and local stakeholders. Since 1973, we have decommissioned offshore facilities in the Gulf of Mexico, the UK North Sea, South East Asia and in various onshore locations in the USA, Canada and the Netherlands. We promote collaboration and knowledge sharing with industry, government and relevant stakeholders.
Decommissioning and restoration in 2021
We have decommissioning activities under way in Brunei, India, Malaysia, the Netherlands, the UK and the USA. We seek to reuse, repurpose and to maximise recycling of materials in decommissioning. Shell is required to account for future decommissioning expenses. At the end of 2021, we reported over $22 billion on our balance sheet for current and non-current decommissioning and other provisions. Find out more about our approach to sustainability and our performance data in our Sustainability Report and our Annual Report.
Dismantling and recycling
Our largest decommissioning portfolio is in the UK and includes the Brent oil and gas field, which lies in the North Sea between the UK and Norway. Preparation for decommissioning of the four Brent platforms started in 2006. The Bravo and Delta platforms have been fully decommissioned, and the Alpha platform is in the process of being decommissioned. Charlie, the last of the Brent platforms, stopped production on 31 March, 2021 and decommissioning preparations are underway.
Also in the North Sea, the Goldeneye platform, around 100 km northeast of Aberdeen, was successfully lifted in September 2021 and removed to Norway for dismantling and recycling. Heerema Marine Contractors conducted the Goldeneye lift using the semi-submersible crane vessel SSCV Thialf (see below). The operations included removing the 1,280 metric ton topside and the 3,019 metric ton jacket. The field had been operational from 2004 to 2011 and included five wells linked to the St. Fergus facility onshore via the Goldeneye pipeline.
In India, we are decommissioning the Tapti offshore natural gas field (Shell interest 30%), which lies off the coast of Mumbai. This is the country’s first decommissioning project. All 38 wells have been closed and made safe but the removal of the five platforms has been delayed due to COVID-19.
Decommissioning and reuse in practice
In the Netherland, NAM (Nederlandse Aardolie Maatschappij), a Shell joint-venture has started the cleaning and demolition of the above-ground installations at ten former production locations in the Groningen region. NAM is prioritising the reuse of locations and existing equipment when feasible and, if that is not possible, the responsible processing and recycling of demolished equipment.
Shell has decommissioned oil and gas production facilities in the Gulf of Mexico, the UK North Sea, South East Asia and in various onshore locations in the USA, Canada, Malaysia, Brunei and the Netherlands. We share our learnings and best practices through various with governments and industry associations including on how decommissioning policies can enable re-purposing infrastructures in support of the energy transition.
More in sustainability
When oil and gas fields end production, their facilities need to be dismantled and disposed of - or "decommissioned". Learn about decommissioning at Shell.
Decommissioning is part of the normal life cycle of every oil and gas structure. Safe and responsible decommissioning is a priority for Shell when a facility reaches the end of its life.