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North Sea—what lies beneath

Shell wants to leave some of its defunct Brent infrastructure at sea. It’s the cheap way to decommission—but might also have ecological benefits

The successful removal of the topsides from the Shell's Brent Delta platform in April was a symbolic affair. That's not just because it was one of the biggest such operations ever undertaken on one of the industry's more iconic structures, now destined for scrap and recycling. Just as important was what was left behind—three massive concrete legs, reinforced with steel, sitting on the seafloor in water 140 metres deep. Their fate is a subject of intense debate. At its peak, in the early 1980s, Brent Delta and its three sister platforms on the Brent field produced over 0.5m barrels a day of oil between them—and spawned the Brent crude benchmark price. Its removal represents the largest piece

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