Abu Dhabi energy company Taqa has completed the North Sea's largest decommissioning project – to dismantle the topside of the Brae Bravo oil rig.
The platform, which is almost as tall as the 135m London Eye, has been operating on the Brae Area oil field, 274 kilometres north-east of Aberdeen in Scotland, since 1988.
After decades of being an integral energy supplier to the UK’s gas and oil industry, it was decommissioned in 2018.
A major project using two of the world’s largest cranes dismantled the topside of the rig.
More than 36,000 tonnes of the material removed will be recycled over the next 18 months.
It is hoped 95 per cent of the platform will be repurposed.
Donald Taylor, Taqa’s managing director for Europe, said it was a “significant milestone” and was a blueprint for future decommissioning projects.
“The Brae Bravo decommissioning project is a landmark moment for Taqa and the North Sea offshore industry,” he told The National.
“The scale of this engineering feat cannot be overstated. Despite the challenges faced by the on and offshore team from the Covid-19 pandemic, this was completed on schedule and without any major incidents recorded – highlighting our commitment to health and safety.
“Decommissioning and late-life management of offshore assets will play a major role in our journey to a lower carbon future, and Brae Bravo will be the blueprint for all future Taqa decommissioning programmes in the North Sea.”
The topside removal was completed by two of the world’s largest semi-submersible crane vessels, Thialf and Sleipnir.
The Thialf crane was used to prepare the platform for removal and removed the cranes and helideck, while the Sleipnir crane simultaneously completed the removal of the Brae Bravo flare tower, bridge and steel frame.
Up to 500 people worked on the decommissioning project totalling nearly 400,000 man hours.
The platform is now being transported to the AF Environmental Base in Vats, Norway, to be recycled.
Over its 33-year lifetime, Brae Bravo produced more than 500 million barrels of oil and more than 300,000 people worked at the platform.
Mr Taylor said the platform was widely recognised in the industry as “an iconic asset” in the pioneering Brae fields.
The only remaining element visible above the sea surface is the top of the jacket.
A navigational aid has been installed on the remaining structure and a 500-metre safety zone will remain in place until the jacket is fully decommissioned in 2022.
Taqa, with other partners, is developing one of the world's largest solar plants at Al Dhafra with a total capacity of two gigawatts, as part of the UAE's efforts to increase clean energy capacity.