The British authorities has endorsed plans by oil large Shell to go away some decommissioned North Sea oil infrastructure in place, regardless of the German authorities expressing severe considerations about shortcomings within the oil large’s proposals, in accordance with leaked paperwork seen by Unearthed.

Hundreds of ageing North Sea oil and fuel rigs will likely be decommissioned within the coming years and eradicating buildings from the ocean utterly will likely be costly. The UK public spending watchdog, the National Audit Office, has mentioned that British taxpayers will face a invoice of not less than £24bn for tax aid awarded to grease firms decommissioning North Sea oil infrastructure.

Following an evaluation and session, Shell has proposed leaving parts of its Brent oilfield installations within the North Sea. A doc, seen by Unearthed, from January three this yr, reveals that the Offshore Petroleum Regulator for Environment and Decommissioning (OPRED), which is a part of the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS), has given its full assist to Shell’s proposal. The plans embody leaving the residual contents of concrete storage cells, together with oil and chemical substances, at three of the 4 installations – Brent Bravo, Charlie and Delta.


But the transfer by the UK authorities to conform to the proposals might undermine a world conference designed to guard the marine surroundings.

Rules for decommissioning oil fields within the North Sea have been arrange by the OSPAR Convention, an settlement together with 15 nations – together with the UK and Germany – and the EU, which goals to guard the marine surroundings of the north-east Atlantic.

But additional leaked paperwork present that the German authorities had already expressed severe reservations about Shell’s proposals.

One doc seen by Unearthed reveals that the German authorities warned in November 2018 that Shell’s plans didn’t correctly to account for long run dangers to the surroundings and ship site visitors – notably within the case of a maritime accident. It additionally expressed concern that the comparative evaluation methodology utilized by Shell was biased in favour of the corporate’s cheaper and most popular choice, to go away North Sea installations in place.

The UK authorities has now written to all of the OSPAR nations asking them to touch upon its choice to endorse Shell’s plans.

Unearthed has additionally obtained an official letter despatched by German surroundings minister Svenja Schulze to Michael Gove on January 21, 2019 after the UK endorsed Shell’s plans, by which Schulze writes: “I’m involved to seek out there aren’t any plans for disposal on land even though technical potentialities can be found.”

According to this letter, the German surroundings ministry met twice with Shell to precise reservations in regards to the firm’s proposals to go away installations in place and the methodology utilized by Shell to reach at that conclusion.

Schulze concludes her letter by asking for the UK’s choice to be “reviewed”.

A Shell spokesperson confirmed that the corporate had conferences with the German authorities final yr, by which the corporate went by way of its comparative evaluation course of and defined the way it arrived at its suggestions.

Unearthed and The Times collectively requested Defra if Michael Gove had replied to Schulze’s letter, however obtained no response.

Even although the paperwork set out the German surroundings ministry’s considerations with the plans, Unearthed understands that the German authorities continues to be in discussions over whether or not it would formally object to the UK’s proposal to problem a allow to Shell at OSPAR.

Under OSPAR rule 98/three which offers with the disposal of disused offshore installations, if three OSPAR contracting events object to a proposal, then various particular conferences and consultations will be referred to as to debate and/or resolve issues. If that occurs the UK authorities should weigh up these objections and considerations as a part of its choice whether or not to problem a allow or not. OSPAR contracting events can’t block the UK…

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