Over the last couple of days myself and photographer Richard Cannon have been on assignment for the Getty Images Verbatim Agency who have the petrochemical company Shell as one of their clients. The brief was to document the decommissioned oil platform Brent Delta Topside as it arrived at the mouth of the River Tees on board the crane ship, Pioneering Spirit ahead of decommissioning work at the Able UK yard at Seaton Port on the banks of the Tees.
The Brent Delta Topside weighs over 24 thousand tonnes and is the first of the Shell owned Brent oilfield rigs to be brought in from the site which is situated 115 miles off Shetland in Northern Scotland after production stopped there in 2011.
The Pioneering Spirit is the largest construction vessel ever built and is truly colossal! With a gross tonnage of over 400,000 tons it is 382 meters long, which is as long as six Boeing 747 aircraft and has a deck the size of six football pitches.
This huge cargo towering 130 metres was the heaviest single cargo ever lifted in the history of the oil and gas industry and after sitting shrouded in sea mist and cloud off the Hartlepool coastline for a day the delicate work began to gently lower the Delta onto the barge ‘Iron Lady’ and then, with the help of tugboats navigate to the mouth of the Tees and upriver into the quay at the Able yard.
The four tugboats skilfully nudged and eased the huge structure along the river and as the tide rose with it it finally came to rest in a specially built quay ready for decommissioning work to begin. A team of around 50 engineers hope to dismantle the Brent Delta over the next several months to a year and recycle around 97% of the materials.
Hundreds of people came to witness the incredible spectacle and found vantage points all along the route. As the final adjustments were made and it inched its way to journey’s end before finally coming to rest the industrial skyline of Teesside has now changed.
At least for a while.
Following on from this assignment I was subsequently asked by Getty Images News to go back to the Able UK site a couple of days later and take some more pictures of the Brent Delta. Fortunately the weather was a little brighter and made some nice pictures. Some of those pictures are below along with some usage in The Guardian newspaper.
Photo by Richard Cannon
Images (c) Ian Forsyth 2017 / Getty Images Verbatim / Shell International UK
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