Shell to end North Sea oil production

A chapter in the history of oil production in the North Sea would come to an end with Royal Dutch Shell seeking approval to decommission its platforms of the Brent field, which had produced 10 per cent of the region's oil and gas since 1976, The Telegraph reported.

The Anglo-Dutch oil major had submitted plans to the government for the removal of the giant Brent Delta ''topside'' structure and started a 30-day consultation on 16 February on its proposals for the challenging operation.

According to Alistair Hope, Shell's Brent decommissioning project director, it was the start of a new chapter in North Sea history. He added it was one of the first areas in the world to be decommissioned on this scale.

As North Sea fields start running dry over the next 25 years, it was estimated £40 billion would need to be spent on removing redundant platforms and pipelines and plugging spent oil wells.

Around 16 billion barrels of oil was thought to be recoverable from the UK's North Sea but production rates had fallen as companies had been forced to drill deeper and invest more capital.

Meanwhile, The Independent reported that dismantling the enormous platforms in its Brent oil field in the North Sea was one of the most challenging decommissioning projects the world had ever seen.

The oil field – from which the benchmark Brent crude price took its name had produced about 2 billion barrels of oil and 5.7 trillion cubic feet of gas since it came on stream in 1976 which  equated to over 10 per cent of all North Sea oil and gas production.

However, 99.5 per cent of Brent's commercially extractable reserves had now been recovered and three of its four platforms had already ceased production.

Shell had worked out plans for decommissioning the platforms in the Brent field, which is 115 miles north-east of Lerwick in the Shetland Islands, and had 1,000 offshore workers on the project.

The company intended to start with the Brent Delta platform, for which it had submitted proposals to the Department of Energy & Climate Change, which would open them to consultation for 30 days from 16 February.

According to Alistair Hope, Shell's Brent decommissioning project director, the Brent field had been a prolific national asset for many years.