finance

Abu Dhabi oil company begins North Sea rig decommissioning



The Abu Dhabi National Energy Company (TAQA) has commenced work on one of the largest decommissioning project undertaken in the North Sea.

TAQA Group will being removing the 1988 Brae Bravo platform, east of Sumburgh Head off Shetland. The topside platform weighs 36,000 tonnes, with a jacket substructure weighing 22,500 tonnes.

The platform was installed in 1987, with first oil achieved the following April. In December 2017 production ceased and on 6 July 2018 production ceased from connecting oil drilling platforms. The platform was disembarked in July 2019.

It will be removed in three separate phases in 2021 and 2022, using two of the world’s largest semi-submersible crane vessels (SSCVs).

It will be the first time these vessels have been used in the North Sea. The ships, named Heerema’s Thialf and Sleipnir, are each greater than 200 metres in length.

The first campaign began in April saw the SSCVs in the field for several days preparing and removing the flare tower, bridge and jacket.

Thialf remains in the field to complete final preparatory works and module separation to allow final removal in the summer.

The second phase will use Sleipnir to remove the remaining topsides of the oil rig during two trips to the field this summer. It will leave the top of the jacker above the sea surface, which will be the only visible element.

For safety reasons, a dedicated navigational aid will be placed on the remaining structure and a 500-metre safety zone will remain in place until jacket decommissioning is completed in 2022.

All waste materials will be transported to the AF Environmental Base in Vats, Norway for processing, aiming for a 95% recycling or reuse target.

Donald Taylor, TAQA managing director for Europe, commented: “The Brae Bravo has been an integral part of the Brae fields for more than three decades with the size and scale of the platform, including the topside structure, almost the height of the London Eye.

“The arrival of Thialf in the field was a historic occasion, heralding the moment when we started converting many years of planning into practical implementation.

“Over the last 33 years, Brae Bravo has been an important contributor to the UK oil and gas industry with many people having long-standing connections to the platform.”

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