DATE: September 4, 2019
SNIP: Thousands of tonnes of hazardous waste including crude oil could be abandoned in decaying North Sea rigs by Shell with the permission of the UK government, prompting growing concerns among other European countries.
Due to the cost and difficulty of dismantling the structures, the oil giant has proposed leaving the vast concrete legs from three oil rigs standing in the waters.
These could remain for up to 500 years after the platforms have been decommissioned.
There is an estimated 11,000 tonnes of oil and toxins mixed with sediment held within the Bravo, Charlie and Delta structures, which were built in the Brent oil field, to the East Shetland Basin, in the 1970s.
Hundreds of other enormous rigs, which can be as tall as the Eiffel Tower and weigh as much as the Empire State Building, are due to be decommissioned over the next three decades.
Now there are fears UK government support for Shell’s plans to abandon the structures on the sea bed could set a precedent for how the oil platforms are dealt with in future.
In June this year, Shell removed the 25,000 tonne platforms from the three oil rigs, leaving the enormous leg, 20m wide, structures.
However, returning to remove the legs and the hazardous substances held within would be too expensive and too risky, they have argued.