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Pace of decommissioning picking up as Buchan Alpha arrives in Lerwick

Tue 15 Aug 2017 by David Foxwell

Pace of decommissioning picking up as <i>Buchan Alpha</i> arrives in Lerwick
The Buchan Alpha platform arrives at Lerwick, where it will be decommissioned

The number of decommissioning projects in the North Sea is growing, with the arrival of Repsol Sinopec Resources UK's Buchan Alpha production unit at Lerwick over the weekend of 12 August.

Decommissioning of the facility is being managed by Veolia and Peterson and it is believed to be the first major North Sea floating production vessel to be disposed of in Scotland. The work will be carried out at the Dales Voe site in Lerwick.

A semi-submersible moored floating production vessel, Buchan Alpha was built in 1973 as a drilling rig and converted for production. The unit commenced production in 1981 from the Buchan field, which is in blocks 21/1A and 20/5A, and has subsequently also produced the nearby Hannay field. Production ceased as planned on 12 May 2017, with the unit having produced around 148M barrels of oil.

Off-station work on Buchan Alpha has been ongoing over the past several months, with the primary objectives of cleaning and reducing topsides weight in preparation for the tow. It will initially be moored offshore Lerwick in deeper water where the thrusters will be removed to reduce its draught, allowing it to be moved to the quayside within the next few weeks. Veolia will then begin dismantling the steel structure to maximise the recycling rate with the aim of achieving 98% recycling rates.

Veolia UK & Ireland senior executive vice president Estelle Brachlianoff said: “We are expecting a growth in the decommissioning market and the Buchan Alpha contract is a significant example 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.”

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