Drilling rig arrives for decommissioning

The Buchan Alpha oil installation was towed into Dales Voe on Saturday as owners Repsol Sinopec handed over the 12,000 tonne vessel to Veolia for decommissioning. It could take up to three weeks before the Buchan Alpha is being moved alongside the new quay. Photo: Hans J Marter/Shetland News

DECOMMISSIONING of oil installations has finally arrived as a new industry for Shetland after the Buchan Alpha oil production vessel was towed to the northeast of Lerwick Harbour on Thursday morning.

The Buchan Alpha is set to be dismantled by a consortium of environmental solutions company Veolia and logistics firm Peterson at the new Dales Voe facility, creating up to 35 new jobs locally in the process.


The 12,000 tonne structure will initially stay to the north of Bressay to discharge ballast water before being towed closer into Dales Voe.

Once in Dales Voe, the vessel’s thrusters will be removed to reduce the draught allowing it to be moved to the newly strengthened quayside.

Arriving ahead of the official opening of the Dales Voe quay on 29 August, the Buchan Alpha is the first major North Sea floating production facility to be decommissioned in Scotland.

Belonging to oil production company Repsol Sinopec, the Buchan Alpha is a semi-submersible moored floating production vessel that used to be located around 156km northeast of Aberdeen.

The former drilling rig produced nearly 150 million barrels of oil over its 36 year lifespan before it ceased production on 12 May. 

The Buchan Alpha arrived off Bressay on Thursday morning after being towed by three tugs. Photo: Austin Taylor