There's a lot of different projects taking place in Shetland at the moment and one of the projects currently ongoing in harbour at Lerwick is the decommissioning of Ninian Northern oil platform.
The project got underway in September 2020 with the arrival of the Ninian Northern platform topside, weighing in at 14,200 tonne. This was delivered to the new decommissioning pad at Dales Voe at the North end of Lerwick harbour. A purpose built facility by the Lerwick Port Authority in an attempt to keep some of the decommissioning work in the UK.
After that phase was complete, it was time to bring in the next section of Ninian Northern, which was the 8,100 tonne jacket.
This required the help of the Pioneering Spirit, which is the largest construction vessel in the world. The Pioneering Spirit is 382 metres long and 124 metres wide. She managed to take the jacket off the oilfield in a single lift. She then transferred the jacket from the Ninian oilfield last month. Ninian oilfield is about 100 miles north-east of Shetland. It took a couple of weeks before the transfer was completed.
The jacket was transferred from the Pioneering Spirit to the barge the Iron Lady, before slowly bringing it to its final resting ground on the Dales Voe decommissioning site. The whole process of decommissioning the jacket will take around 8 months and it is expected thet 97% of the steel will be recycled. The project provides a welcome boost to the Shetland economy.
They say everything goes full circle and when oil was discovered off the coast of Shetland in the 1970's, Shetland played a large part in that process with the creation of the Sullom Voe Oil Terminal in the north of Shetland. We now find ourselves at the end of that cycle with the need to remove and decommission oil fields that are 40-50 years old and that have served their purpose.
I recently had a gentleman on my tour that had worked on Ninian Northern about 32 years ago. He was astounded (and a little bit emotional) to see the work taking place. It was a pleasure to be able to show him something that meant so much to him.