Royal Dutch Shell (LON:RDSA) has come under fire over its plans to decommission the Brent oil and gas field in the North Sea. The move would see the company leave several structures in place, with the oil major arguing that removing them would be risky as well as costly.
Shell’s share price has inched marginally lower in London this morning, having shed 0.16 percent to 2,118.00p as of 08:41 GMT. The stock is slightly underperforming the broader London market, with the benchmark FTSE 100 index having climbed marginally higher and currently 0.06 percent better off at 7,192.91 points. The group’s shares have surged more than 45 percent over the past year, but are down by some five percent in the year-to-date.
The Financial Times reported yesterday that environmental groups had accused Shell of cutting corners to save costs as a public consultation began on the biggest decommissioning project of its kind in the oil industry. The Anglo-Dutch oil major said yesterday that it had submitted plans to the UK government which include removing the upper parts of the group’s four Brent platforms in the North Sea. The company, however, wants to leave behind the concrete legs, as well as 64 subsea storage tanks, and drill cuttings contaminated with oil.
“Shell has undertaken thorough analysis, extensive scientific research and detailed consultation with over 180 stakeholder organisations over the past 10 years,” Duncan Manning, Brent Decommissioning Asset Manager, commented in a statement yesterday, adding that the company encouraged “all those with an interest in the decommissioning of the Brent field to review, reflect on and respond” to the consultation document.
The FT quoted Lang Banks, director of WWF Scotland, a conservation group, as accepting there might be a case to leave the concrete legs because of the environmental and safety risks involved in removing them, while arguing that Shell should clear the seabed of drilling detritus and storage tanks.
The Times meanwhile quoted the Anglo-Dutch oil major as saying that even partial removal of three of the four Brent platforms would cost £840 million.