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Shell to start decommission of North Sea Brent platform

The Brent field has produced 10% of all North Sea oil and gas since 1976. Credit: PA

Oil company Shell will today seek approval to dismantle one of Britain's oldest and biggest oil platforms.

At its peak in 1982, the Brent field, in Britain's North Sea basin, produced more than half a million barrels a day - enough to provide energy for about half of UK homes that year.

Brent Delta ceased production in 2011 and Brent Alpha and Bravo stopped in November. Production from the field continues through Brent Charlie.

But after several years of assessing alternative uses for the disused platforms, Shell decided decommissioning was the best way forward.

Removing the 500 offshore installations and 10,000 kilometres of pipelines is expected to cost £10.4 billion pounds by 2022, according to industry estimates.

WWF Scotland director Lang Banks said: "Having made massive profits over the last few decades, it's only right that it should push those limits once again to clean up their potentially hazardous legacy and protect the marine environment."

"Given the enormous size of the rigs and the iconic nature of the Brent field, this decommissioning will be watched closely and should therefore be aiming to set the highest possible benchmarks for the rest of the industry to follow."

A 30-day public consultation on the plans, which will take 10 years, will begin on Monday February 16. Shell said they hope many people will play an active part.