Shell shuts Brent oil, gas field after platform hitch

London (Platts)--18Jan2011/914 am EST/1414 GMT


Shell has shut all four platforms on the Brent oil and gas field in the the UK's North Sea after a weekend incident on the field's main production hub, a company spokesman said Tuesday.

The Brent Alpha, Charlie and Delta platforms were closed as a precaution on January 15 after a section of a protective frame on the Brent Bravo platform fell into the sea, the official said.

"Non-essential personnel were evacuated from all four platforms as a precautionary measure," the spokesman said, adding Shell is unable to estimate when the field could restart.

The Brent field, located in the East Shetland Basin some 186 km northeast of the Shetland Islands, had been producing about 20,000 b/d of oil and 4.5 million cu m/day of gas, the spokesman said.

The field supplies oil via the Brent System pipeline to the terminal at Sullom Voe, while gas is piped through the FLAGS pipeline ashore at St Fergus on the northeast coast of Scotland.

Shell said that nobody was hurt in Bravo platform incident and an inquiry into the failure of the protective "fender" has begun.

No deferrals in the January Brent loading schedule had reported by North Sea crude traders by 12:00 GMT.

One crude trader at Shell doubted that the shutdown of the platforms would significantly impact Brent loadings.

The 30-year-old Brent field, once Shell's flagship asset in the UK Continental Shelf, has seen its production slide from a peak of 410,000 b/d in 1984, with gas output slipping from some 10% of the UK's gas consumption in 2001 to around 1-2%.

--Robert Perkins, robert_perkins@platts.com --Benno Spencer, benno_spencer@platts.com

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