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Topsides removal a significant milestone in decommissioning of Dunlin Alpha

Topsides removal a significant milestone in decommissioning of Dunlin Alpha


Fairfield Energy today announced the end of an era with the removal of the topsides from Dunlin Alpha. This is the latest milestone in the decommissioning of the four fields which make up the Greater Dunlin Area.

Following the hook down and removal activities undertaken by the HAF Consortium (Heerema Marine Contractors and AF Offshore Decom) last month, Heerema’s SSCV Sleipnir transferred the remaining modules to its deck before removing the main 11,750 Tonne Module Support Frame (MSF) in a single lift. The Sleipnir then returned to AF Offshore Decom’s Environmental Base at Vats where more than 95% of the Dunlin topsides will be recycled.

The Dunlin Alpha installation, located approximately 137 km northeast of Shetland and in a water depth of 151 m, produced first oil in 1978. In the 37 years that followed, more than 522 million barrels of oil were recovered from the Greater Dunlin Area, comprising the Dunlin, Dunlin S/W, Osprey and Merlin fields. Fairfield Energy acquired the assets in 2008 and took over full operatorship in 2014, maximising production during its late-life stage and then progressing its subsequent decommissioning programmes.

Alan Scott, General Manager for the Greater Dunlin Area Decommissioning Project said: “This is a poignant milestone for an installation which has been a central part of UK North Sea production since the industry’s earlier days. Notably, in 1978 it was the first field to produce into the Sullom Voe Terminal on Shetland, paving the way for the many which came after.

“The Greater Dunlin Area itself has made its mark but it’s important not to forget the thousands of people who have visited or called the platform their working home. Dunlin has always been blessed with a strong team spirit and this is another core part of its legacy, having influenced the careers of many across the industry. I’d like to thank everyone who has been involved with Dunlin over the years, helping the asset overcome any challenges and achieve its many successes.”

Agreement was reached with the UK authorities in 2015 that the fields had reached Maximum Economic Recovery (MER), enabling Fairfield to begin the multi-asset, multi-year decommissioning of the Greater Dunlin Area. Since that time, Fairfield has developed, consulted upon and gained approval of its decommissioning proposals and executed a series of scopes which, at their peak, employed 600 personnel from over 26 drilling, subsea and topside operations companies.

Gary Farquhar, Platform & Infrastructure Decommissioning Manager said: “Project execution has involved the P&A of 12 Osprey and 4 Merlin subsea wells; the decommissioning of the extensive subsea infrastructure associated with those satellite fields; the decommissioning of subsea power import, gas import and oil export infrastructure; the P&A of 45 platform wells; and the engineering down of the Dunlin Alpha topsides. We are very pleased to have now added Topsides Removal to the list of activities that have been safely and efficiently executed.”

Read the latest issue of the OGV Energy magazine HERE

Published: 13-06-2022

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