In an effort to reduce unneeded drilling capacity in the North Sea, Royal Dutch Shell is decommissioning its four platforms in the Brent oil and gas fields. 

As a part of this ongoing process, the topside Brent Delta was brought onshore intact at Hartlepool, U.K. last month in a complex feat of engineering. The final lift of the 24,000 ton topside was performed on May 7 by Mammoet for offshore contractor Allseas. The lift involved the use of 436 skid tracks, 64 skid shoes and 36 push-pull units to move the topside from a custom-built barge onto land at the ABLE UK dismatling yard.

Operating for nearly 40 years, Brent Delta is one of four production topsides that Shell operated in the Brent gas fields. Production on the Brent Delta topside ended in 2011 and was demanned in 2016. The other three facilities are also being prepared for removal. The decision to remove and dismantle the topsides rather than refurbish them was driving by their already extended lifespan, says Alistar Hope, Shell project director for the Brent decommissioning.

“Decommissioning is a normal part of the oil and gas lifecycle where we need to remove the facilities and then either reuse them or recycle them in a responsible way,” Hope said in a press statement. “In the case of Brent I think we initially thought we’d have a 25 year life. We’re now coming up to almost 40 years.”

The Brent Delta topside was transported from the North Sea by the ship Pioneering Spirit, which is specifically designed for the removal and transport of intact topsides.

Watch the Pioneering Spirit transport the Brent Delta topside (Video courtesy of Allseas).

The process of bringing the topside onto land involved lifting it to a custom-built barge with Mammoet's skidding system alread installed. The barge was then grounded onto a grounding pad at the ABLE UK yard. The load-in of the topside from the barge took only nine hours.

Watch the onshoring of the Brent Delta topside at Hartlepool (Video courtesy of ABLE UK). 

The topside will be dismantled over the next year, and Shell expects that 97% of its materials and components will be reused or recycled.