UK approves Beatrice decommissioning plan

24 January 2019, Week 03, Issue 483

The UK government has approved plans by Repsol Sinopec Resources UK (RSRUK) for the decommissioning of the Beatrice oilfield in the North Sea. 

RSRUK published its draft decommissioning programme for Beatrice in August 2018. The facilities covered by the plan comprise the bridge-linked Beatrice Alpha drilling and Beatrice Alpha production platforms; the Beatrice Bravo and Beatrice Charlie platforms; and associated pipelines and subsea infrastructure. Two demonstrator wind turbines and power cables installed in 2007 are also slated for dismantling. 

The removal of topsides at the field, which is located about 13 miles (22 km) off the coast of Caithness in the Moray Firth, is scheduled to begin around 2025. The onshore recycling phase of the programme is due to end by 2030. 

RSRUK said it had already completed plugging and abandoning all of the Bravo and Charlie wells. The company submitted its new decommissioning programme for the field last year after a previous plan to hand over the infrastructure to the UK Ministry of Defence (MoD) was scrapped. The MoD had been interested in converting the complex into a training facility. 

Beatrice was discovered in September 1976 in Block 11/30a, with output beginning five years later. At its peak, the Alpha platform was capable of producing between 30,000 and 35,000 boepd. The Bravo platform came on stream in 1984 at almost peak volume of 14,000 boepd. Output from the site was terminated in March 2015. 

RSRUK noted the onshore Nigg terminal does not form part of the Beatrice decommissioning programme, as it is controlled and managed under a different regulatory regime. 

Beatrice is the latest in a long line of fields that are due to be dismantled in the coming decade. The Oil and Gas Authority (OGA) estimates that 100 offshore platforms and 5,700 km of pipeline on the UK Continental Shelf (UKCS) will be decommissioned or re-used over the period. The total cost of this work is estimated at around GBP58 billion (US$75 billion). 

That number could be squeezed by technological advances, however, with the recently launched National Decommissioning Centre (NDC) leading the way. The Aberdeen-based hub will work in partnership with companies on R&D into decommissioning that focuses on reducing costs and extending field and asset life. 

It was established as part of a long-term GBP38 million (US$50 million) partnership between the Oil & Gas Technology Centre (OGTC) and the University of Aberdeen. 

Edited by

Ryan Stevenson

Managing Editor

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