Environmental groups reject Shell's Brent oil field decommissioning plans

Written by Liam Kirkaldy on 10 April 2017 in News

Under the plans, released in February, Shell would leave the legs of three of the platforms in place rather than removing them

Environmental groups have rejected Shell’s preferred means of decommissioning its North Sea Brent oil field, amid claims the oil giant’s plans lack sufficient detail and “don't allow international law to be upheld”.

Under the plans, released in February, Shell would leave the legs of three of the platforms in place rather than removing them.

With a consultation over the company’s proposals now closed, UK ministers will consider Shell’s plans before making a decision.


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But a coalition of environmental organisations, including WWF, Greenpeace UK, the Marine Conservation Society, Friends of the Earth Scotland, the Scottish Wildlife Trust, and RSPB Scotland refused to back the plans, claiming the proposals for disposing of the platforms do not adhere to internationally agreed standards.

WWF Scotland director Lang Banks said: "Despite some 3,000 pages of documents, 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.

"The internationally-agreed Ospar rules set out very clear criteria and procedures for operators to follow in carrying out such assessments, but we do not believe they have been adhered to with regard to disposing of the Brent platforms.

"The material presented by Shell cannot be clearly cross-referenced to the Ospar requirements meaning we cannot assess whether or not there is a solid case for the derogations sought.

"We are therefore left with no choice but to reject Shell's plans in their current state and have asked for key further information to adequately assess their proposals."

A Shell spokesman said: "Shell welcomes the feedback, which has been received from stakeholders and members of the public during the 60-day public consultation period for the Brent field.

"The consultation concludes today and, over the coming weeks, we will continue to review and respond to the comments received.”

But Greenpeace UK chief scientist Dr Doug Parr warned the plans “don't allow international law to be upheld, because it's not possible for regulators to really understand what the proposition is”.

He said: “We don't think they have explored options fully, we don't think they have justified the options we want to carry through and we think they should go back and properly do their homework.

“We won't rule in or out taking direct action on this or frankly any other campaign because we don't talk about our campaign plans in detail in advance. What I can say is that we are going to continue to monitor and to watch and make sure international law is upheld and Shell does the right thing in doing so.”

North Sea oil is often referred to as Brent crude, such has been the importance of the site. The name acts as a major benchmark price for purchases of oil worldwide.

A spokeswoman for the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy said: "Any decommissioning plan will be carefully considered by the government, taking into account environmental, safety and cost implications, the impact on other users of the sea and a public consultation."

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