UK Regulator Greenlights TAQA's Cormorant Alpha Platform Topsides Removal Plan

Wednesday, February 23, 2022

The UK regulators have approved decommissioning plans submitted by TAQA Bratani for the removal of the Cormorant Alpha platform topsides in the North Sea.

TAQA last year filed plans for the decommissioning of the topsides of the Cormorant Alpha platform, located in Block 211/26 of the Northern North Sea (NNS),  approximately 103 km northeast of Shetland and 41 km west of the UK/Norway median line. Installed in May 1978, the Cormorant Alpha platform produced first oil in December 1979. Taqa took over the platform from Shell in 2008.

The Cormorant Alpha platform consists of a four-leg Concrete Gravity Base Structure with a steel box girder structure supporting two levels of modules on the topsides and sits in a water depth of approximately 150 meters. The Living Quarters (LQ) can accommodate 175 persons. The installed total weight of topsides is currently estimated to be approximately 25,546 t.Credit: TAQA's Decommissioning Plan

In its decommissioning plan submitted to the UK's Offshore Petroleum Regulator for Environment and Decommissioning (OPRED) last year, Taqa said it had assessed options for reuse of the Cormorant Alpha platform and concluded that there were no credible reuse options for the topsides.

"The alternatives for reuse included: an offshore renewable energy generation station (wind, wave or tidal), a marine research station, a
training center, fish farming site, carbon capture, and storage site and reuse of the facilities at an alternative location. However, after a thorough
review TAQA concluded that reuse was not a credible option because of the age of the infrastructure, its distance from shore and lack
of demand for and the capital outlay combined with the annual operational and maintenance costs of the converted facility making it
economically unviable," TAQA said in its decommissioning plan.

“Two possible methods of topsides removal are under consideration; single lift and modular removal,” Taqa said at the time.

The first option would entail lift and removal to shore as a single unit, using a Single Lift Vessel (SLV). The second would include removal of the topsides in modular sections, using a Heavy Lift Vessel (HLV).

“At this stage, the specific method by which the removal activity will take place has not been determined. Both are potentially suitable. These decisions will depend to some degree on the proposals made by the eventual contractor,” Taqa said.

The cessation of production date for Cormorant Alpha is currently anticipated to be Q4 2023. 

Categories: Energy Industry News Activity Decommissioning UKCS

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