Oil major Shell has not provided enough information about its plans for decommissioning the massive Brent field structures, according to a joint statement by eight environmental groups.
The statement was made at the end of a 60-day consultation over Shell's plans for the Brent field infrastructure, comprising four platforms, installed 115mi northeast of the Shetland islands in the 1970s. The first facility, Brent Delta, is also close having its topsides removed, potentially next month, by Allseas' Pioneering Spirit mega-vessel.
The groups*, including WWF, Greenpeace and Friends of the Earth Scotland, say they have not been able to come to a view on Shell's plans because of insufficient information and request that more information is provided so they can assess the proposals.
Shell wants to leave in place the field's three large gravity-based structures and the lower section of a steel jacket. The topsides, debris on the seabed and remaining oil within the concrete storage cells on the gravity based structures, would be removed. Sediment in the concrete structures and drill cuttings would be left in place. A range of options has been set out for the Brent field pipelines.
The environmental groups say Shell's plans offer "insufficient information” and "fail to adhere to clear internationally agreed criteria and procedures."
The joint statement from the eight groups says: "It has not been possible to come to a view on the decommissioning proposal due to insufficient information provided by Shell.
"The material presented cannot be clearly cross referenced to OSPAR 98/3 requirements for each of the major components and pollutants for which Shell seeks derogation [i.e. permission to leave in place]. There is a lack of quantitative analysis based on hard data, a significant reliance on subjective, qualitative judgments and opinions by experts, including Shell’s own engineers, which has led to some options being excluded from further consideration. There is also a lack of quantification of the uncertainties in many of the estimates made, which was also highlighted by the Independent Review Group."
WWF Scotland director Lang Banks said: “Despite over 3000 pages of documentation, it has not been possible to come to a view on Shell’s decommissioning proposal due to insufficient information being provided by the company across several key areas.
“We... have asked for key further information in order to adequately assess their proposals. Given the enormous size of the rigs and the iconic nature of the Brent field, its decommissioning is being watched closely, both here and globally, and it should therefore be aiming to set the highest possible benchmarks for the rest of the industry to follow."
Shell, which clashed with environmental groups over the removal of the Brent Spar in the early 1990s, has already spent 10 years and millions of dollars working on the Brent field decommissioning, including millions of pounds spent to access then assess the contents of the concrete cells.
Image: Shell's Brent Bravo platform.
*WWF-UK, Greenpeace UK, Whale & Dolphin Conservation, Marine Conservation Society, Friends of the Earth Scotland, Scottish Wildlife Trust, KIMO, and RSPB Scotland.