Oil and gas firm CNR International said yesterday public consultation had started ahead of the decommissioning of its east-of-Shetland Murchison platform.
North Sea firms could be spending up to £1billion a year on decommissioning by 2015, according to trade-body Decom North Sea.
Murchison, which is expected to cease production in early 2014, stands 833 feet above the seabed.
Built in 1979, the installation’s huge size and age qualify it to possibly leave in place the 144ft stumps of its jacket supports.
The platform’s 24,500 tonne topsides, which contain the drilling, production and living quarters, will be removed onshore for reuse or recycling.
Steve Etherson, responsible for subsea and pipelines at the Canadian oil firm, said: “As the largest steel-jacket platform to be decommissioned to date, Murchison presents complex challenges. These have to be underpinned by thorough preparation and in-depth evaluations of the possibilities to make CNR International’s first decommissioning programme a real success.”
The UK energy secretary is expected to approve the programme by mid-2014, when contracts to lift off and remove the topside structure will be awarded.
The execution phase of the programme is anticipated to take until 2019, with the main oil export line expected to also be left in situ with rock covering exposed sections.
CNR is operator of Murchison, holding a 77.8% stake with Wintershall owning the remaining 22.2%.
Estimates of the costs of the decom project have not been disclosed.
The next major North Sea decommissioning project on the horizon is Shell’s Brent Alpha and Bravo platforms, which are scheduled to reach stop production in late 2014 and late 2015 respectively.