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Brent decommissioning opaque, environmentalists say

April 10 (UPI) — Royal Dutch Shell hasn’t provided enough information on plans to take down key North Sea infrastructure to address our concerns, environmental groups said.

Shell started a 60-day consultation period for its plans to decommission three of its Brent production platforms in the North Sea in early February. That consultation period concludes at the end of the business day Monday.

In preparation, a consortium of environmental groups said they opposed the decommissioning plans as submitted because of the lack of information. Lang Banks, the Scottish director of environmental group WWF, said that, by his read, the outline from Shell lacks “qualitative judgments and opinions” from experts, including some of the engineers at the Dutch supermajor.

“Despite over 3,000 pages of documentation, it has not been possible to come to a view on Shell’s decommissioning proposal due to insufficient information being provided by the company across several key areas,” he said in a statement. “We are therefore left with no choice but to reject Shell’s plans in their current state and have asked for key further information in order to adequately assess their proposals.”

The Brent field, the origin of the global benchmark for crude oil prices, is located about 115 miles north of the Shetland Islands. Since production began in 1976, the complex has represented about 10 percent of total British production. Field maturation, however, has forced the idling of the production platforms and Shell is preparing to embark on a multimillion dollar plan to take them down.

Operations at the Delta platform ended in 2011 and the Alpha and Bravo platforms were shut down in 2014. The company said plans for new decommissioning include operations to deal with the more than two dozen pipelines connected to the Brent field.

Preparations for decommissioning began in 2006. When it started the consultation process, the company said its plans followed “an extensive and in-depth study period.”

A Shell spokesperson said in response to email questions that any and all comments on its plans were welcomed.

“The consultation concludes today and, over the coming weeks, we will continue to review and respond to the comments received,” the spokesperson said.

A report from the trade group Oil & Gas U.K. finds total British offshore production up 5 percent from 2015 to 1.73 billion barrels of oil equivalent. That trend should continue short-term with output reaching 1.9 billion barrels of oil equivalent by 2018, an uptick that follows a 15-year period of steady declines.

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