End of 40 year era as Moray Firth oil rigs are decommissioned while new offshore wind farm is built

Schematic of Beatrice oil field and pipelines
Schematic of Beatrice oil field and pipelines

One of the oldest North Sea oil fields in Scottish waters is to be fully decommissioned now that the UK Minister of Defence has decided against using the redundant Beatrice field in the Moray Firth for RAF fighter-bomber training.

Production at the 41-year old field has ceased and it owner Repsol Sinopec are now planning to remove the platform complex, two demonstrator wind turbines, and cables between 2024 and 2027.

The field, about 13 miles off the Caithness coast, also forms part of the site of a massive offshore wind farm project. When the first turbine was installed at Beatrice, it set a number of records.

These included it being the largest offshore wind turbine in the world, the first to be installed in a single lift from a floating vessel and the furthest turbine from shore and in the deepest water.

The planned decommissioning project involves the removal of five platform structures and power cables. Forty three wells in the field are to be ‘plugged’ and abandoned.

Repsol Sinopec expects a jack-up unit to arrive on-site next month.

At its peak, the Beatrice Alpha platform was capable of producing between 30,000 and 35,000 barrels of oil per day. The Bravo platform was installed in 1983, followed by the Charlie platform which increased output to a peak of 54,000 barrels of oil per day.

Meanwhile, more than 120,000 tonnes of steelwork are currently in fabrication across the UK, Europe and Asia to manufacture the piles and jacket foundations which will support the 7MW wind turbines once they are installed in SSE’s Beatrice offshore wind farm.

The 25,000 tonne Stanislav Yudin heavy-lift vessel arrived earlier this spring to commence the installation of the offshore piles at each of the turbine locations, while the 47,000 tonnes Oleg Strashnov is scheduled to arrive in August to install the first phase of the offshore jacket foundations for the wind turbines in the 588MW development.

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