World's biggest ship set to carry out gas platform work off Lancashire coast

Two unmanned gas rigs, visible off the Lancashire coast on a clear day, are set to be taken down by the world’s biggest sea-going vessel.

Wednesday, 6th January 2021, 3:30 pm

The installations which used to produce gas in Morecambe Bay are no longer needed as the gas in the field dwindles.

Now preparations for Spirit Energy’s DP3 and DP4 11,000-tonne platforms to be lifted from the East Irish Sea are under way.

They will be removed by the giant specialist ship the Allseas’ Pioneering Spirit.

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The huge Allseas Pioneering Spirit will visit the Lancashire coast to decommission tow gas rigs in 2021

The pair used to produce gas as part of Spirit Energy’s complex of eight installations in Morecambe Bay.

As the field has matured, the reserves the platforms previously tapped into have been produced by the larger, manned Central Morecambe platform nearby.

The 12 wells which were connected to the DP3 and DP4 platforms have already been plugged and abandoned – using a slant rig to accommodate the angle at which the wells were drilled in the 1980s to access the gas reservoir below the seabed – and the platforms will soon be safe to be lifted and taken back to shore.

The 382m long Allseas Pioneering Spirit will lift both the DP3 and DP4 platforms – well within its limits of lifting 48,000-tonne topsides.

Spirit Energy's DP3 gas rig is one of two which will be removed from Morecambe Bay

Donald Martin, project manager at Spirit Energy, said: “After two years of preparing the DP3 and DP4 installations for removal, we’re now looking forward to one of the most significant milestones in the project with the removal of both platforms.

“Seeing the Pioneering Spirit in the East Irish Sea will be an impressive sight –its capacity and single-lift methodology made it a good fit to safely execute this project.”

The DP3 and DP4 installations first produced gas in 1985 when the South Morecambe field came online.

The area continues to produce enough gas to heat one million UK homes every day thanks to production from the Central Morecambe, North Morecambe, DP6 and DP8 platforms.

Production will not be affected by the operation and the ship is likely to be visible from Blackpool.

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