COVID-19 update: Shetland is open to visitors, in line with Scottish Government guidance. Please read our information on travelling responsibly.

Decommissioning of Former Floating Production Unit

by Alastair Hamilton -

Drivers heading north out of Lerwick these days catch sight, if only briefly, of a new feature in the landscape, because the biggest decommissioning contract at Lerwick Harbour yet is about to get under way. A former floating production unit from the Buchan Field, in the North Sea, has arrived.

Moored initially in deep-water Dales Voe to deballast, the semi-submersible Buchan Alpha will be moved alongside Dales Voe Base for dismantling and recycling over the next year or so. Operator, Repsol Sinopec Resources UK awarded the contract to Veolia, in association with Peterson. Around 12,000 tonnes of materials will be brought ashore as the unit is dismantled.

A semi-submersible moored floating production vessel, weighing 12,000 tonnes, Buchan Alpha was built in 1973 as a drilling rig and converted for production purposes in Stornoway between 1978-80. The vessel commenced production in 1981 from the Buchan field, located in blocks 21/1A and 20/5A, and has subsequently also produced the nearby Hannay field. Production ceased, as planned, on 12 May 2017 having produced around 148m barrels of oil.

Around 12,000 tonnes of materials will be brought ashore

The contract for disposal was internationally tendered and awarded to Veolia, working with their strategic partner in decommissioning, Peterson, who have a proven safety and environmental track record in the decommissioning of oil and gas assets. The work will be carried out at the Dales Voe site in Lerwick. Buchan Alpha is believed to be the first major North Sea floating production facility to be disposed of in Scotland.

Scottish Government Minister for Business, Innovation and Energy, Paul Wheelhouse, said:

“I am delighted that we have now seen the safe arrival of the Buchan Alpha in Lerwick. This is great news for Shetland and a clear sign of the opportunities available in this emerging market. The decommissioning of the Buchan Alpha provides Scotland and our supply chain with the opportunity to demonstrate our skills, capabilities and competitiveness in this area.”

Off-station work on Buchan Alpha has been ongoing, with the primary objectives of cleaning, and reducing topsides weight in preparation for tow. Now that it is moored in the sheltered, but deep waters, of Dales Voe, the thrusters will be removed to reduce the draught, allowing it to be moved to the quayside within the next few weeks.

Veolia will then begin the dismantling of the steel structure to maximise recycling; the aim is to recycle 98% of the unit.

Estelle Brachlianoff, Senior Executive Vice-President Veolia UK & Ireland said:

"We are expecting a growth in the decommissioning market and the Buchan Alpha contract is a significant example of this type of the potential expansion of this sector in Scotland. These offshore assets will now be recycled to give them a second, third or even fourth life creating jobs and investment in the local economy.

Sandra Laurenson, Chief Executive of Lerwick Port Authority, added:

“The arrival of Buchan Alpha is another significant milestone following more than a decade of decommissioning at Lerwick, where Buchan is the largest project yet. Recent investment, extending the Dales Voe quay and laydown, and progressing plans for an ultra-deep-water quay as the UK solution to future requirements reflect our commitment to capability and competitiveness as a leader in the emerging decommissioning market.”

the aim is to recycle 98% of the unit

Posted in: Decommissioning

Add to
My Shetland
My Collection 0