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News Extra: Brent decommissioning to commence in 2017

01 March 2017

Depending on the speed with which Shell receives its UK Government and OSPAR approvals, the company says the 10-year duration Brent field decommissioning programme could start as soon as May 2017, with the specialist vessel Pioneering Spirit lined up to start work on the 24,000-tonne topsides of the Delta platform.

Pioneering Spirit - Image: Allseas
Pioneering Spirit - Image: Allseas

The vast ship, operated by the Swiss-based Allseas group, will manoeuvre its twin hulls either side of the platform’s legs and it will grip on with 16 specially reinforced beams. Then in a single motion, it will lift the structure — accommodation block, helipad, drilling derrick and all — away from its legs, before carrying it back to shore to be dismantled.

In doing so, the ship will have undertaken the heaviest lift ever attempted in the North Sea.
To prepare the rig for the lift, around 1,500 welders and structural steel specialists spent much of 2016 working to reinforce Delta’s topsides to ensure they did not disintegrate when lifted.
The platform will then be taken to a former shipyard in Hartlepool, where most of the steel will be recycled and sold off.

This will be the second operation of this kind carried out by Pioneering Spirit (formerly Pieter Schelte), the largest construction/decommissioning vessel ever built, with a transit displacement of 365,000 tonnes and a maximum displacement with load of 932,000 tonnes.

In 2016 it removed the topsides of the Repsol-operated Yme mobile offshore production unit in the Norwegian North Sea, roughly half the weight of the Brent Delta lift.

Before the availability of these specialist vessels, platforms were broken down and removed a piece at a time.

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