The cost of offshore wind power: worse than we thought

By Andrew Montford

A few days ago, the BBC’s Roger Harrabin mentioned a new suggestion that instead of cutting up redundant oil rigs, we should simply sink them to the bottom of the sea, where they would become artificial reefs that would encourage a flourishing of marine flora and fauna. Observant readers of his Twitter feed were of course quick to point out that this was exactly what BP had proposed for their Brent Spar platform nearly twenty years ago. At the time there was an outpouring from environmentalists, who accused the oil giant of deliberately polluting the seas. The campaign became truly farcical when Greenpeace made the claim – which environmental correspondents, to a man, failed to challenge – that the platform was full of nuclear waste. This was a truly shameful moment.

The reason I mention this story today is that the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy recently published a paper on the potential decommissioning costs of all those offshore wind turbines that they are so keen on installing. The answer is as follows:

The total estimated decommissioning cost is £1.28bn to £3.64bn…
That’s for 34 windfarms, so £100 million each. You can see why there might be a sudden upsurge of interest in creating artificial reefs out of large marine structures rather than having to fork out money to chop them up and take them back to shore.
Interestingly, the report also notes this:
…it was acknowledged that earlier studies on the Levelised Cost of Energy from offshore wind…did not account for decommissioning costs, or the cost of procuring securities.
They estimate that if a cash security was required up front, it would add nearly 5% to the levelised cost.
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July 17, 2018 4:42 am

The rules for offshore hydrocarbon development licenses were always that the operator was responsible for reinstating the seabed to its original condition at the end of the period of useful production. If it hasn’t already I see no reason for that to change now.

Reply to  Cephus0
July 17, 2018 4:54 am

If you examine the reality of undersea structures, you would understand that these things (oil rigs, wind towers, piers, sunken ships, etc.) have already built up an attached ecosystem – it happens to every bit of structure underwater. To restore the seabed to its original state would destroy this ecosystem.

Reply to  Hartley
July 17, 2018 6:23 am

I’m afraid it id you who completely fails to understand. Marine growth is routinely removed from subsea structures in order to mitigate damage and to facilitate scheduled inspection and maintenance tasks. Moreover the rules are the rules.

Peter D
Reply to  Cephus0
July 18, 2018 12:04 am

I used to work in the offshore oil industry. The rigs had become habitats for amazing coral reefs. They were not cleaned. The rig workers when off duty used to get bored, so they would fish off the platforms. Illegal and against rules, but there families weren’t well off. So the fish were checked – very very healthy. So the company turned a blind eye, and installed a giant freezer to store the fish until the workers went home after a rotation.
A bit harder to police was the commercial fishermen. They were indentured labor, protected by some Green US based NGO (ie there owner was “untouchable”). They would bring there small boats up to the rig to fish. Now that was dangerous.

Reply to  Peter D
July 18, 2018 3:17 am

I too worked in the offshore industry – as a subsea construction engineer. Part of my duties was routine cleaning, inspection and maintenance of underwater steel structures. You and your Hartley troll cohorts are either lying or are dangerously insane. You seriously think we would allow those multi-million dollar, multi-billion dollar producing pieces of hardware to be overtaken by marine growth? You seriously think we would be allowed to let them get into such a state that we couldn’t even inspect them for integrity anymore? That we would be allowed to risk an environmental disaster because we couldn’t be bothered to maintain the structures? What the hell were you doing offshore? The ship’s cat knows more about this than you do.

Reply to  Cephus0
July 18, 2018 4:02 am

You are 100% correct. Failure to remove marine growth can even lead to INC’s from BSEE.

Even when infrastructure is “reefed,” it’s usually not just sunk in place. A platform has to be scrubbed of any potentially harmful material and towed to an approved reefing location. In the Gulf of Mexico, there aren’t many suitable reefing locations remaining.

Reply to  Hartley
July 17, 2018 7:07 am

Seems you come with your own army of trolls, Hartley, who vote down engineering facts and vote up your ignorant bloviations.

Gene H
Reply to  Cephus0
July 17, 2018 7:36 am

CephusO, Insults are used by those who really have no argument!

Reply to  Gene H
July 17, 2018 12:21 pm

Gene H, I just made the arguments which are easily confirmed with a small amount of research. Squawking about it is the pathetic retreat of the ignorant.

Reply to  Cephus0
July 17, 2018 4:56 pm

Pointing out where you are wrong is just a pathetic retreat of the ignorant?
You certainly have an unjustifiably high opinion of yourself.

Reply to  MarkW
July 18, 2018 3:20 am

Would you care to point out where I was wrong? No I thought not because you don’t know anything about it but are quite prepared to assert that I am wrong and that is the Mark of a true moron.

Reply to  MarkW
July 18, 2018 4:08 am

No one has pointed out where Cephus0 is wrong.

Reply to  Gene H
July 18, 2018 4:08 am

Cephus0 is the only person in this discussion with a grasp of the facts.

Reply to  David Middleton
July 18, 2018 7:25 am

Ha I was waiting for you to show up David and bring some rationality and in depth industrial knowledge to the thread. Cheers!

Reply to  Cephus0
July 18, 2018 7:50 am

I think there’s a fundamental misunderstanding about what we mean by clearing marine growth.

Peter Plail
Reply to  Cephus0
July 17, 2018 9:26 am

An army consisting of Cephus1, Cephus2, ………. perhaps.

Reply to  Cephus0
July 17, 2018 2:48 pm


Now where have I heard that before?

Ah. Another person not using the same name as you, or possibly – nay probably thee same person not using the same name…a day or two ago…

Reply to  Leo Smith
July 18, 2018 3:49 am

What? What are you burbling about you silly little man? Am I on WUWT here or did I somehow get ported into SS? I made a statement about cleaning and inspection of offshore structures, something I was professionally involved with but which should be absolutely self-evident to anyone with more than a single functioning neuron – only to find armies of burbling halfwits flinging faeces. The level of sheer dogmatic ignorance on this site is often truly breathtaking.

Greg in Houston
Reply to  Cephus0
July 18, 2018 8:08 am

My son is a petroleum engineer for a large multi-national oil company. Scuba divers inspect twice a month and recommend repairs/maintenance. They do not “clean” the substructure for reasons I mentioned. Rules in other countries may be different. (Cephus, your spelling appears to be British – maybe it’s different across the pond.) Also, need to define exactly what you mean by “clean.”

Reply to  Greg in Houston
July 18, 2018 1:35 pm

Greg, firstly unless the structure is standing in s puddle scuba divers won’t be inspecting anything. This kind of work is virtually all carried out by specialist mixed gas saturation diving teams. Secondly please think for a moment about what you are saying. How do you imagine anything may be inspected when encrusted with inches of dense marine growth? A visual inspection would be nothing more than a marine species survey revealing absolutely nothing about the underlying steelwork integrity. Bolt tensioning, ultrasonography and magnetic particle inspection would all be impossible. Sometimes they do actual surveys of the marine growth itself in order to better understand the species distributions and how to deal with the problem. If your son’s outfit are throwing a couple of scuba divers in to have a general look at mussels, barnacles and anemones in the first 100 feet then they are doing it wrong. Tell him to get a job with a respectable company.

Greg in Houston
Reply to  Cephus0
July 18, 2018 6:24 pm

Bolt tensioning, ultrasonagrahy, and MGI are not done every 6 months anywhere. This thread started by you saying that marine growth is routinely removed… to facilitate inspection. That is not done in the USA. You have never mentioned time intervals. A 7000′ subsea structure cannot have all marine growth removed even annually with the result being anything economic. You need to give more information regarding what structures you specifically worked on, what was the time intervals of cleaning, and what exactly was removed and how. My son used the term “scuba” generically…. mixed gas saturation is still a self contained underwater breathing apparatus. Perhaps your experience is different from subsea oil structures.

Johann Wundersamer
Reply to  Hartley
July 17, 2018 9:50 am

Yes, Hartley.

On the other hand:

net fishing ocean floors –

Reply to  Johann Wundersamer
July 17, 2018 1:26 pm

I’m thinking that areas with either old oil rigs OR wind turbine bases would NOT be conducive to trawling.

Reply to  Hartley
July 20, 2018 4:46 pm

So, please kindly have a look at plans for the next 30 years at North Sea. The area of wind parks is to be around 30% of the water with depths up to 40m-50m. Then tell something about trawling there. Up to now, in UK you can trawl between turbines – but if you damage the interfield cables then you are eligible to be sued over damages. But fishermen do fish there, with various methods.
Now imagine that everything goes down. (maybe without blades and generators – but THIS is also a cost).

Reply to  Hartley
July 17, 2018 12:17 pm

Great fishing near oil rigs!

Reply to  Cube
July 18, 2018 7:18 am

Fish and marine organisms LOVE STRUCTURE. Floating or sunk. What marine life finds really unattractive is little or no structure. What the greenie clowns refuse to face is that marine life actually loves to live in what they deride as human waste or ‘pollution’.

And humans tend to avoid making toxic soup cans, ropes, shopping bags, or plastic drink bottles.

The humble floating or benthic habit shopping bag has probably provided a haven to 1,000s of times more marine criters than they’ve ever harmed, degraded or killed.

The greenie toss-pots are at it agaij, we all have to pretend plastic is sooo ‘Evil’, or else we’re declared to be ‘evil’.

Same old mass-control lever-pulling schtick.

The eternal greenie religion, it’s as embedded as stupidity itself—same thing, different expression.

Reply to  Cephus0
July 17, 2018 7:29 am

It depends on the country. Some like to use offshore platforms for artificial reefs. This can be accomplished by removing production equipment (or cutting the whole deck), cutting the structure off the sea floor piles, and placing it sideways on the sea floor (there are numerous options and methods to do it).

Arguing that the rules are the rules is inconsequential, a meaningless statement. Making the structure an artificial reef is better for the environment, saves the operator and government money.

Reply to  Fernando L
July 17, 2018 12:26 pm

Contracts may be inconsequential and meaningless to you but that only goes to highlight the glaringly obvious fact that you prefer your own cozy glow warm fuzzy emotionalism.

Greg in Houston
Reply to  Cephus0
July 17, 2018 1:08 pm

I do not believe that oil rig/platform legs are routinely cleaned – I’d love a link or at least a reference to these “rules.” Cleaning would promote additional corrosion.

Reply to  Greg in Houston
July 17, 2018 1:29 pm

Greg, I am quite sure that in all the years I’ve been sailing around oil rigs and the like, I’ve never seen them being “cleaned”. I would believe that perhaps a few critical underwater components might get cleaned off once in a while, but the rig as a whole – no way. The expense of doing so would also seem prohibitive.

Reply to  Hartley
July 18, 2018 4:59 am

We spend a ton of money cleaning and painting our offshore facilities… Because it’s required by law and a serious safety issue.

Greg in Houston
Reply to  David Middleton
July 18, 2018 7:06 am

Dave, the underwater portion, too?

Reply to  Hartley
July 18, 2018 3:12 pm

Were you peering over the side of your boat to some hundreds of metres of depth? Or did you ever wonder what those funny looking semi-submersibles were doing alongside?

dan no longer in CA
Reply to  Greg in Houston
July 17, 2018 1:58 pm

I spent 6 years in the 1980s working for a company that built remote controlled vehicles used for inspection of offshore oil rigs, mostly in the Gulf of Mexico. The vehicles had video cameras that showed lots of marine life (artificial reefs) and recorded electrical corrosion potential. I never heard of cleaning the rig structure.

Reply to  dan no longer in CA
July 17, 2018 5:04 pm

Sacrificial anodes. Cleaning would be way too labor intensive, and as already noted, may do more harm than good, in that removing the stubbornly attached marine life may not only remove chunks of metal, but also expose as-yet unoxidized metal to the seawater and allow accelerated corrosion. When or if the sacrificial anodes are gone, new ones are attached, or maybe not, depending upon where the rig is in its life cycle.

Detaching the rig in a piece and laying it on its side may also be needlessly labor and equipment intensive. Why not just chop off the upper sections in the largest chunks conducive to get the job done, and let them fall to the seafloor? And only remove enough that they are not a hazard to surface vessels. Sounds like a plan to me!

Reply to  Red94ViperRT10
July 17, 2018 7:33 pm

Actually, they use explosives

Reply to  Red94ViperRT10
July 18, 2018 7:25 am

That’s for electolysis corrosion due relative saline water flow.

Reply to  Red94ViperRT10
July 18, 2018 2:56 pm

No one cares what you imagine might be the case. The fact is they are cleaned with robots, high pressure water jets, grit-entrained water jets and manual scrapers.

Reply to  dan no longer in CA
July 18, 2018 5:14 am

Any marine growth that affects the operations and/or safety of an offshore structure has to be removed:

Corrective Action Plan – 2018 Update (Selected Primary Option)
1 Summary Project Overview

The Atlantis production platform is located in Green Canyon Block 787 at a water depth of 7,074 feet. Gas from Atlantis is exported to existing shelf and onshore interconnections via the 16 inch “Cleopatra” Gas Gathering pipeline operated by Shell Pipeline Company LP (Shell). The Atlantis gas export pipeline starts at the pig launcher on Atlantis and ends at the subsea tie-in to the Mad Dog Gas export pipeline.

BP Exploration & Production Inc. (BP) and Cleopatra Gas Gathering Company, LLC have submitted a notification letter to the BSEE Pipelines Section regarding demarcation of pipeline operatorship in the vicinity of the check valve and bypass line that are the subject of this Memo.

Upon approval, BP will be the owner and operator of the gas export pipeline from the pig launcher down to the flex joint. All piping downstream from the flex joint on the gas export pipeline will be operated by Shell.

The portion of the gas export pipeline that runs along the Atlantis pontoon contains a check valve upstream of the flex joint. It is located approximately 50 feet below the mean water line. The check valve contains an integrated bypass line with a topsides operated gate valve for buying back gas during start-up.


4 Plan Forward

The proof-of-concept testing is expected to be completed by March 31st
2018. Upon successful completion of the proof-of-concept testing, the selection of the CAP Concept 1 would be confirmed, and BP will submit an application to BSEE requesting approval to proceed with the selected CAP Concept. The application will be submitted to the BSEE Houma District Office, and a copy sent to the BSEE Pipelines Section. The submittal will include plans for the selected CAP Concept operation, with the expectation that BP will be prepared to execute the plan upon approval by BSEE.

The execution ofthe CAP Concept will require two (2) separate offshore campaigns as detailed below:

Campaign 1: Primarily involves preparation work required for the subsequent activities.

Preparatory work would include:

• Removal of the structure installed over the bypass valve structure
Cleaning of barnacles and marine growth from the subsea valve location
• Completion of a 3-dimensional laser based topography scan of the bypass valve structure including the surrounding pontoon structures. This is intended to verify the dimensional tolerances required for the fitting removal tool to achieve an accurate fit over the subsea bypass valve.
• Identification of all essential equipment and processes required to perform a safe operation, protect the environment and personnel.
• Completion of Operational Risk Assessments for structure removal, valve cleaning and 3-Dimensional survey.
• Drafting and approval of safe execution plans for the work to be completed in Campaign 1.

Generally speaking, the submerged portions of jackets and other structural features don’t have to be kept free of marine growth, unless it affects safe operation of the facility. However, the topsides have to be maintained, which includes cleaning and painting.

richard verney
Reply to  David Middleton
July 18, 2018 5:41 am

No one is suggesting that the underwater structure of a rig is not regularly inspected, and maintained as necessary.

Of course, this may require some localised cleaning in order to inspect welds, flanges, bold heads, collars, tethering, anchorage, valves etc. But that is a long way short of routine maintenance keeping the entire submerged structure of a deep water rig free of marine growth.

The key here is operational factors and safety. What you have posted appears to be regulations/guidelines applicable to a structure like an SBM/SPM, used in offloading the product to tankers..

comment image

Reply to  richard verney
July 18, 2018 7:23 am

It would be impossible to keep the submerged portion of a jacket clear of marine growth. However, anything that is essential for operations and safety has to be kept clear.

Greg in Houston
Reply to  David Middleton
July 18, 2018 7:09 am

Dave, this appears to apply to underwater pipelines & pipeline components, not the entire subsurface of a marine platform – or maybe I misread?

Reply to  Greg in Houston
July 18, 2018 7:49 am

It’s the connection between a deepwater platform and its export pipeline. The bypass valve was to be cleaned of marine growth. Anything that is essential for safety and/or operations has to be kept clear.

I think the confusion is in what’s being referred to as “overgrown” with marine growth. This is not what I would call “overgrown.”

comment image

It would be impossible to keep the submerged portion of a jacket clear of marine growth. However, anything that would affect structural integrity has to be rectified.

And… When the operator plugs and abandons a field, the seafloor has to be left in as close to the same condition as it was prior to drilling. Under certain circumstances part of the jacket (legs) can be reefed in place. You generally can’t just sever the topsides and leave the jacket in place. Most reefed rigs and platforms are relocated to specified areas suitable for artificial reefs.

Greg in Houston
Reply to  David Middleton
July 18, 2018 8:10 am

Thanks for the clarification.

Reply to  dan no longer in CA
July 18, 2018 3:09 pm

Have you considered how they might have achieved close intermetallic contact so as to measure the potential?

richard verney
Reply to  Fernando L
July 18, 2018 12:23 am

I was in the maritime industry, for approximately 30 years, and I have never heard of such routine maintenance on rig structures. It would be very complex, very difficult.

I have extensive experience with dry dock application of anti fouling paints, and in cleaning ship hulls. Removing marine growth is not a straight forward task, and does some damage to the anti fouling coating even if conducted with care.

comment image

Brush kart cleaning of ship’s hulls is carried out, with varying degrees of success. But this is because marine growth can seriously impact upon the speed and consumption of a ship. In the maritime industry, time is literally money, so a vessel’s speed is very important, and bunker fuel costs are one of the major operating expenses involved in any voyage. If a ship is chartered under a Time Charter, this will contain a provision to compensate the charterer for loss of warranted performance of the vessel, and even some Voyage Charters, particularly in the oil/chemical sector, also contain performance warranties that entitle the Voyage Charterer to compensation should the vessel underperform.

Thus there are significant commercial considerations as to why brush kart cleaning is carried out as part of a routine maintenance plan, or even just as a short term expedience, prior to a vessel going into her next dry dock.

Good quality anti-fouling paint is very material for a commercial ship, and the manner and quality of surface preparation, and application during dry dock, including humidity/temperature conditions is critical, and there are numerous commercial disputes incidental to this.

Now just consider the ease of cleaning a large hull with only shallow curvature and and situated at shall depths in calm seas, probably within the commercial environs of a harbour, compared to the cleaning of an oil rig structure in hostile marine environs.

Just for interest, I attach a few links to brush kart cleaning;

Reply to  richard verney
July 18, 2018 3:05 pm

“I was in the maritime industry, for approximately 30 years, and I have never heard of such routine maintenance on rig structures. It would be very complex, very difficult.”

Richard, why are you talking about a completely different industry here? You’ve never heard of it because you were working in a completely different industry. Just surreal.

Reply to  Cephus0
July 17, 2018 2:55 pm

A splendid haul of wriggling, slippery know-nothing eco-fascists here. Surprised to find them in such shoals in this thread but great to see nonetheless.

Reply to  Cephus0
July 17, 2018 3:51 pm

The projection is strong with this one.

Reply to  drednicolson
July 18, 2018 2:35 pm

Great post.

Reply to  Cephus0
July 17, 2018 5:08 pm

See, it’s the name-calling that identifies you as a troll. If you have a point to make, make it, preferably with fact-based references (it’s your point, if you’re unwilling or unable to make it or defend it, it must not have been much of a point), otherwise just STFU.

Reply to  Red94ViperRT10
July 18, 2018 2:34 pm

I already made the point and several times. Learn to read. Come back when you have some sort of point other than babbling about trolls and stfu etc etc.

Mark Rogers
July 17, 2018 4:45 am

One rule for “renewables” another for everyone else?

Henning Nielsen
Reply to  Mark Rogers
July 17, 2018 5:23 am

And the “renewers” free to make those rules themselves.

Dan Evens
Reply to  Mark Rogers
July 17, 2018 7:02 am

Indeed. In the nuclear industry we are required to demonstrate shutdown, decommissioning, and spent fuel storage. And charge for it up front in every kW-hr we generate. And still, nuclear plants in Ontario make a profit at 5.6 cents per kW-hr.

Alan Tomalty
Reply to  Dan Evens
July 17, 2018 10:05 am

They only make a profit because the price of electricity was doubled because of the subsidies on renewables. As soon as the subsidies are taken off the whole intermittent renewable industry collapses. Ford the premier, has taken off the subsidy for electric cars which was $14000 per car. The market for electric cars is now expected to collapse.

Reply to  Alan Tomalty
July 17, 2018 10:30 am

You did see that Dan was talking about NUCLEAR, and not renewables? right? Not much more stable baseload to be had then that.

Smart Rock
Reply to  Dan Evens
July 17, 2018 7:53 pm

For which we, the Ontario consumers, are grateful; we get reliable electricity from nukes and big hydro, although we pay for the wind farm follies. At least we don’t face the prospect of blackouts as they seem to do in South Australia.

Reply to  Dan Evens
July 18, 2018 11:01 am

But, but, but Dan, you can’t expect the unreliables to meet those unreasonable standards!

Gunga Din
Reply to  Mark Rogers
July 17, 2018 7:12 pm

Not only the rules regarding the whole cost but also the rules regarding damage to the environment and it’s critters.

Mark Rogers
July 17, 2018 4:51 am

Thinking about this some more what is the anticipated amount of electricity this wind turbines are going to produce between being constructed at several tens of million of pounds each then removed at £100, 000,000.00 pounds each.
I am assuming there is no sane justification for building these things without the massive subsidies.

Peter Plail
Reply to  Mark Rogers
July 17, 2018 9:28 am

I think the £100M is per wind farm not per windmill, but that doesn’t change the thrust of the argument.

July 17, 2018 4:52 am

The campaign became truly farcical when Greenpeace made the claim – which environmental correspondents, to a man, failed to challenge – that the platform was full of nuclear waste.

That’s a provably false lie. It’s defamation. Greenpeace could be sued. It’s a bit hard to win such a lawsuit because it looks like SLAPP. Even so, such lawsuits can be won. example The activists shouldn’t be able to peddle blatant lies and then hide behind their supposed virtue. Lies should have consequences.

Bruce Ploetz
Reply to  commieBob
July 17, 2018 5:26 am

CommieBob, you are right but as is so often the case, the truth does not fit anyone’s narrative. It won’t gain any traction with those whose opinions matter.

I am beginning to think this is not a flaw in education or the media, but an inherent flaw in elective democratic governments. In a post-modern, post-science, post-truth world all that matters is that the loudest voice gets the votes and thus the power.

Our American founding fathers warned that a republican system of government is only sustainable when the populace is educated. The rise of the powerful political parties made it possible to bypass education, to abrogate truth, to construct insane narratives completely divorced from truth whose only purpose is to demean the other side. To create a hostile environment where a vote for the other side is unthinkable.

George Washington warned us about this in his farewell address. Sadly he was right.

Reply to  commieBob
July 17, 2018 7:34 am

Greenpeace did use baseless and rather dumb comments in the Spar case. Greenpeace is a business, has a business model which requires they break the law once in a while, and get lots of media attention. This allows them to increase collections. Greenpeace executives are very well paid to handle both the business strategy as well as its finances, and they do a very good job. But it’s just a business, no different than Red Bull or a friendly fried chicken restaurant chain.

Alan Tomalty
Reply to  Fernando L
July 17, 2018 10:09 am

No wonder Patrick Moore resigned from Greenpeace an organization that he helped found.

Paul Penrose
Reply to  Fernando L
July 17, 2018 10:27 am

Except that as a charity here in the US, they don’t have to pay taxes like any other business.

Reply to  commieBob
July 17, 2018 8:03 am

commieBob – Ah, but it WASN’T a proveably false lie. After all, any waste left over could have had a (minute) trace of radioactive. Heck, the sea salt incrusting it would have had a slight radioactivity.

Remember, these are the same kinds of people who were able to detect in California the radioactivity from Fukashima so quickly that the fallout would have needed to be supersonic.


Peter Charles
Reply to  commieBob
July 17, 2018 9:30 am

It is and isn’t a lie. Greenpeace used Shell’s own published technical reports on Brent Spar which reported minor amounts of heavy metals and mildly radioactive salts could be expected in the residual oil. While Shell claimed that there was no more than 100 gallons of residue, which would for the most part be inert silt, Greenpeace screamed that it could be as much as 5,000 gallons of extremely toxic material based on samples taken by Greenpeace activists who occupied the structure to stop it being towed out to sea, and from which they claimed there was sixty feet of oil in the tanks and claimed this to be potentially devastating to the marine ecology. The media, as they have done ever since, bigged up the Greenpeace claims and dismissed Shell’s assertions.

When Det Norske Veritas (DNV), the independent Norwegian standards and certification authority, confirmed Shell’s claim Greenpeace apologised for their ‘mistake’ claiming that their sampling may have inadvertently caught oil from the pipes, the length of which they hadn’t allowed for.

The use of ‘could’ and ‘potentially’ provide sufficient ambiguity to defend against a charge of lying. However, wild exaggeration and fanciful possibilities are still lying in my book and I am happy to declare that I have held nothing but disgust and contempt for Greenpeace ever since and would never believe a word they say without extensive independent and authoritative corroboration.

Percy Jackson
Reply to  commieBob
July 17, 2018 12:34 pm

Is there any evidence that Greenpeace claimed that it was full of nuclear waste? According to wikipedia Greenpeace falsely claimed it contained 5500 tonnes of oil for which it apologised. And in fact Brent Spar contained 7500 kg of “scale” which is radioactive oil residue which has to be treated as low level nuclear waste (and Shell estimated that it contained 30000 kg of scale). So it would appear that it was Shell who was claiming it was full of nuclear waste not Greenpeace.

Reply to  Percy Jackson
July 17, 2018 5:20 pm

“…which has to be treated as low level nuclear waste…”

…by regulation. But does it HAVE to be? Is it going to kill anybody or anything? Or even cause the little microbes growing in direct contact with it to grow bigger? Smaller? Sprout an eye where an eye has never grown before? Prove it. More than one study has found statistically significant correlations between levels of radiation above background, and REDUCED mortality from cancers.

Reply to  commieBob
July 18, 2018 12:24 am

Didn’t the Canadian courts recently support the ‘right’ of Greenpiss to lie … they lied, were sued by the damaged company and the court laid waste to the action.

John M. Ware
July 17, 2018 5:02 am

I saw a comment saying that wind farms are not built on mountaintops. Actually, they are; anyone who travels in West Virginia or elsewhere in the Appalachians or the Blue Ridge will see them. That’s where the wind is.

Reply to  John M. Ware
July 17, 2018 5:11 am

I was in the west a few weeks ago, there are a lot of new wind turbines in the Rockies and on through Utah, Nevada, Idaho, and Oregon. The views are impaired and they constitute a blight upon the landscape! I estimate, roughly, an increase of close to 50% since my last trip 2 summers ago.

Reply to  John M. Ware
July 17, 2018 5:52 am

They should also look into the Lowell Mountains wind project, tops of dozens of the peaks lopped off and flattened, all for a wind turbine. Destroys the scenic view and reduces tourism in the area. Note: these mountains are not as large as the term mountain implies, but the impact is real. Twenty one 450 ft turbines. The view along VT-100 is ruined. Here is a link that speaks 1,000 words.

Reply to  UzUrBrain
July 17, 2018 9:38 am

Do you have links to support your claim that dozens of mountain peaks were lopped off and flattened?

Reply to  Chris
July 17, 2018 10:17 am


Did you bother to look at the link usurbrain provided. In that shot alone I count 10 wind turbines each with their own foundation and access road carved out the hillside.

Reply to  Chris
July 17, 2018 10:53 am

The bare tops and the service roads are clearly visible on both Mapquest and Google Maps satellite view. Look for “Lowell Mt. VT” or user your choice of satellite maps.
You will probably not see this view on Aerial America as shown on Scientific American Channel.

Sam C Cogar
Reply to  Chris
July 17, 2018 11:07 am

Cris, take a look-see …… @

The Pinnacle Wind Farm consists of 23 wind turbines placed south of Keyser in Mineral County, West Virginia.×300.jpg

Reply to  Sam C Cogar
July 17, 2018 4:59 pm

Chris is famous for demanding that others do the research for him.

Reply to  MarkW
July 18, 2018 10:34 am

MarkW is famous for never posting a link – what, 40,000 posts and counting without a single piece of evidence provided? Maybe Guinness Book of World Records should be notified.

Reply to  Chris
July 19, 2018 7:21 am

is famous for never posting a link

Chris, why would anyone waste time posting links responding to your replies? Smackdowns are the only appropriate responses.

Reply to  Sam C Cogar
July 18, 2018 10:39 am

HotScot, usurbrain and Sam, I looked up Lowell Mountain before I posted. No indication whatsoever of a mountaintop being lopped off. A backhoe making a pad for a turbine is not lopping off a mountaintop. Here’s a picture of Lowell Mountain. No lopped off mountain tops, just some small paths through the trees cleared.
comment image

Reply to  UzUrBrain
July 17, 2018 5:23 pm

You know what I see? Fairways and greens. The rotating blades should be a negative hazard, if you can hit one, it knocks a stroke or two off your score.

Tom Abbott
Reply to  Red94ViperRT10
July 17, 2018 7:37 pm

I always have trouble with the windmill when I go golfing. I have trouble with the volcano, too.

Johann Wundersamer
Reply to  John M. Ware
July 17, 2018 9:59 am

In the Alps mountain tops are even deforested for wind turbines.

Reply to  Johann Wundersamer
July 17, 2018 4:21 pm

It is amazing that people can can claim to be an “environmentalist, knowing what the destruction to the environment is scream, protest, and fight the mountain-top strip mining in WVA. Then ignore the same destruction of forest, mountains and scenery for “Green Energy. I have driven on the access roads to both the mountain top mines and wind turbine sites. These access roads are designed solely to do the excavation for the massive foundation, access for the concrete trucks and the construction work. After that, they are ignored. That is when the erosion begins, from a heavy spring rainfall. Once the erosion starts it is near impossible and EXPENSIVE to stop. Keep in mind trees and foliage have been STRIPPED and herbicide freely used, and actions are taken to keep it that way. First a small gully starts at a low point in the road then it increases with each rainfall. Next the access road becomes a “drainage” path. All the environmentalists see is the shiny Green Wind Turbines on the top of the mountain. And the property owners see the monthly rental check.

Reply to  UzUrBrain
July 17, 2018 5:26 pm

I did not upvote it because I approve. I did so to get people to look at it!

Reply to  John M. Ware
July 17, 2018 4:11 pm

There’s a line of the things across the Arbuckle ridge in SW Oklahoma. The times I’m driven the interstate that cuts through there, only around half of them are spinning at any appreciable speed. 😐

Adam Gallon
July 17, 2018 5:16 am

Two points here, Brent Spar was owned by Shell, not BP & there were no allegations of “Nuclear waste”, the structure was known to contain PCBs, crude oil & heavy metals. Greenpeace claimed that there were 5500 tonnes of oil contained in the structure, a hundred-fold overstatement.

michael hart
Reply to  Adam Gallon
July 17, 2018 5:50 am

Incorrect, according to Shell.
Shell themselves say on page 105 of the following document:

Greenpeace wrongly claim that when they started a campaign over the Brent Spar, “the only information to hand was Shell’s estimation that it contained 100 tonnes of sludge …and 30 tonnes of low-level radioactive waste”.

Tom in Florida
Reply to  michael hart
July 17, 2018 7:25 am

I think we can all agree that there is a difference between “nuclear waste” and “low level radioactive waste” but “nuclear” sounds scary and invokes nightmares of catastrophes.

michael hart
Reply to  Tom in Florida
July 17, 2018 9:15 am

Exactly. As I recall hearing it reported at the time, Greenpeace were claiming that petroleum-based residues, which were naturally somewhat higher in radioactivity, constituted a radioactive hazard. They knew exactly what they were doing, in their usual supremely dishonest way. Words like “radioactive” and “acid” and “chemical” are their go-to scare words.

Reply to  michael hart
July 17, 2018 2:56 pm

I wonder what the banana-equivalent was? 😉

Richard of NZ
Reply to  Patvan
July 17, 2018 4:04 pm

Or what the brazil-nut equivalent is. I would guess about 10.

Reply to  Adam Gallon
July 17, 2018 1:30 pm

How come greenpeace has not sued mother nature for producing oil in the first place? No protests of all the leaking,(natural seeps)?

Alan Rakes
Reply to  Anonymous
July 17, 2018 2:50 pm

That is an easy answer, Mother Nature has no huge bank account or liquid assets to plunder, except of course the oil itself.

July 17, 2018 5:25 am

When I was in grad school in the ’80s in south Florida, one of my side gigs was monitoring the success of artificial reefs off the coast of Ft. Lauderdale. Bottom line, they worked well enough to continue sinking derelict ships as they became available. I am certain that sunken wind turbines will make equally successful artificial reefs, thereby banishing them to the deeps where they can cease to offend and as a minimal cost to the taxpayers.

Reply to  Pameladragon
July 17, 2018 5:29 am

Hmmm, don’t they contain toxic components ?

Reply to  Marcus
July 17, 2018 5:36 am


Probably remove the Nacelle and blades before sinking them I would imagine. Lots of recoverable material there.

Laughably though, these are supposed to be saving us energy, supposed to be! However the energy that goes to make concrete foundations, towers etc. is all wasted, single use items it seems.

And governments want us all to stop using plastic straws!!!

Reply to  HotScot
July 17, 2018 8:36 am

iirc its the nacelle and blade removal that is the single biggest cost issues with decommissioning them.

Ian W
Reply to  dmacleo
July 19, 2018 12:43 am

I think you may find that removal of the concrete base is the most expensive which is why it is never done. Similarly the access roads and the resultant damage from them being there will not be made good.
Has anyone any references to any of these subsidy farms returning the area to its original state? My understanding is that the normal action when these subsidy farms cease getting subsidies is that the company declares bankruptcy everyone departs, and any windturbines are left to rot.

Alan Tomalty
Reply to  HotScot
July 17, 2018 10:13 am

Take off the subsidies and see how many get built

Reply to  Marcus
July 17, 2018 6:13 am

Well, so do derelict ships. All of the oil and other toxic gunk was removed before we sank them. I’m sure it is equally possible, maybe even easier, to remove the toxic material from wind turbines. Apparently that stuff is not as well-contained as it should be anyway as it is known to leak down to the ground and contaminate the soil.

Tom in Florida
Reply to  Pameladragon
July 17, 2018 7:21 am

The question is depth of the water. How deep can an artificial reef be and still be effective.

Reply to  Tom in Florida
July 17, 2018 12:29 pm

I have fished for grouper at 60 meters offshore Higuerote, Venezuela. It’s a really hard sport to pull one on a hand cranked reel, but it tastes really good. The key is to avoid trying to pull anything over say 20 kg.

For sports fishing and diving the artificial reef should be set with the top at least 20 meters below the surface, with the bottom at say 60 meters. But they can go deeper.

Reply to  Tom in Florida
July 17, 2018 1:25 pm


There is a grouper, tile fish, and other bottom dwelling fish hot spot about 60 – 80 miles off the Virginia coast. Water depth starts @ 600 ft and downwards off the continental shelf. Called the Norfolk Canyon and lots of world records being broken there. I was surprised good fishing would be at that depth.

Reply to  Marcus
July 17, 2018 11:43 am

Very little in our world is devoid of “toxic components” if you look hard enough, and consider isolated molecules as significant. The vast oceans are well capable of absorbing, breaking down, and disbursing anything and everything. If I pee while swimming in a river, am I injuring someone swimming miles downstream? Let’s be reasonable, shall we? Consider the “devastation” predicted after every oil spill. A few years later there remains no trace of any damage. The sea is the great equalizer.

Reply to  brians356
July 17, 2018 12:30 pm

Two things have stood out from my classes years ago that I’ve never forgotten.
-There’s very little that water can’t absorb, dissolve and/or erode on this earth.
-The solution to pollution is dilution.

Indeed, the sea is the great equalizer.

richard verney
Reply to  Darrin
July 18, 2018 1:19 am

In the Braer incident, which was an oil carrier which floundered in 1993 off Shetland, great care was taken to clean the seals, and when, after cleaning, these were being released in one bay, fishermen were shooting them in an adjoining bay.

Plenty of photos and news items on oil covered birds and seals in distress, but no photos or news coverage of what fishermen/locals were doing when the seals were released back into the wild.

Oil is a natural product, and is broken down quite quickly if nature is left to its own device.

Reply to  Pameladragon
July 17, 2018 6:33 am

Sure. Hijack sacred fishing grounds from people that produce food, run them out of business with something that is nothing but feel good solutions for the weak minded politicians that continue the Shell Game addiction of failure. They’ll just cut them down, and lay strewn across the bottom wrecking it for any surviving family owner operator that is adjacent. What the Hell is wrong with people?

Reply to  Bore Head
July 17, 2018 7:41 am

I’m not sure about waters off Great Britain, but in the Gulf of Mexico the platforms are a really good grouper habitat. The key is to catch them before they grow so big one needs a small crane to get them out of the water.

Steven Fraser
Reply to  Fernando L
July 17, 2018 1:34 pm

Perhaps on retirement they could lease out the platforms for deep-sea fishing ?

July 17, 2018 5:32 am

One thing you can bet on is that people who have been receiving massive subsidies for running these monstrosities will find a way of walking away from the decommissioning costs.

Reply to  Ve2
July 17, 2018 6:33 am

Bankruptcy. That’s why the law usually requires a posted bond before construction starts.

richard verney
Reply to  MarkW
July 18, 2018 1:25 am

I very much doubt that any bonds were posted that cover decommissioning.

Whether the company can go bankrupt depends upon the company itself, its reputation and position within the market place, and perhaps its wider parent structure.

July 17, 2018 5:33 am

I remember watching drill rigs being demolished in Gulf of Mexico. We were bummed out because the fishing was so good around them.

Exactly what is the plan for disposing of all this concrete and metal once they have fished it up from the sea floor? It has to go somewhere!

Reply to  2hotel9
July 17, 2018 6:39 am

Get rid of the derricks and stuff on top, then make them into something people want to see, like, maybe, art.

Reply to  pochas94
July 17, 2018 7:02 am

The environwackjobs insist it has to be removed, so it has to go somewhere. Intelligent people would demo them and let them become marine habitat. Standing drill rigs ARE marine habitat, the fishing around them is awesome. Problem is they have a finite lifespan, they become unstable. They have to be dropped so they are not a hazard to shipping. Not sure how deep these windturbine masts are, you still can’t leave them standing in open water, again, hazard to shipping. Got to do something with them, and gauging the economic cost of that should be the top priority.

Joel O'Bryan
Reply to  pochas94
July 17, 2018 9:31 am

Bird killing art. How nice.

Reply to  2hotel9
July 17, 2018 7:01 am

What you ‘see’ and what is actually being performed may be polar opposites.

Rigs to Reefs

Did you know?

As of April 15, 2018, 532 platforms previously installed on the U.S. Outer Continental Shelf have been reefed in the Gulf of Mexico.”

Converting rigs to reefs is a long standing program.

Reply to  ATheoK
July 17, 2018 7:08 am

I know, first time I saw rigs being demo-ed was in ’77. Fished over sunken derelicts quite a few times as a teenager and later after leaving Army. I also remember tire reefing, that one really worked out. Not! 😉 Have a cousin who spends a couple months a year, outside of commercial shrimping season, clearing loose tires along sections of FLA coast, what a mess.

Mike the Morlock
Reply to  2hotel9
July 17, 2018 1:29 pm

Why get ride of them? Turn them in hotels for sightseers , tourists and chartered fishing.

I’m not sure if I am joking….


Reply to  Mike the Morlock
July 17, 2018 5:38 pm

I would agree with you BUT they continue to deteriorate, eventually they WILL fall down. Bummer if it takes a paying guest or two with it.

Reply to  Mike the Morlock
July 17, 2018 6:38 pm

Because they are not stable. That is the whole reason they have to be
“removed”, they are no longer safe to use. For anything. Drill rigs have a “life” measured in decades. Windturbine masts have a “life” measured in LESS THAN a decade. Do you honestly NOT see a problem here? Really?!?!?

Philip Schaeffer
July 17, 2018 5:56 am

This is going to be entertaining.

Peta of Newark
July 17, 2018 6:01 am

the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy recently published a paper…. blah blah…cost is £1.28bn to £3.64bn

Which as anyone who is in the UK and not completely asleep knows to mean at least 10 bill, prolly going on 20
eg. Does any UK one here recall how those thing were gonna cost £10mill each?
Official Quote to HM Government, per turbine installed.
Great. They got a good deal.
Oh yeah?
Seems that (due to something The Chinese did, exchange rates or some other thing) the price of steel went up by 25% inside 6 months of that quote being made/received/approved.
Just the steel.
And the windmills??
Went up to £14 Mill apiece.

Do we UK also recall Smart Meters?
Were going to cost £344 each. Installed. Connected. Working.
Maybe 5 or 6 years ago
Two years ago, British Gas who own half of all the 25 million or so domestic meters in the UK, declared they were setting aside/making provision for a sum of £12billion for the fitting of their share of the Smart haha Meters.
Shiny new toys with a half-life of months, if not just weeks till the interest & usefulness fades. Or a bug crashes them all and blacks-out the country. and it will.
Of course the consumers pay, yet at even at £344 each, the Government said they’d take 25 years to repay themselves

Some may suggest that that is ‘A Joke’ but is actually a quite sad & sickening thing, indicative of the quagmire/mess we really are in.
Cronyism is running riot and it will crash the entire system without more folks like Donald.

July 17, 2018 6:03 am

Just… WOW!

July 17, 2018 6:17 am

You mean the LCOE calculations may be incomplete or otherwise flawed? I’m shocked!

An analysis to show which direction each of the errors favours would be interesting,

Patrick Powers
July 17, 2018 6:24 am

Surprise, surprise!

John Garrett
July 17, 2018 6:27 am

It’s so nice that SOMEBODY else has a long memory.

The Brent Spar farce was yet another completely bogus prophesied disaster created out of whole cloth by idiots and promulgated by an unbelievably gullible (or complicit) media.

I find it increasingly difficult to believe that any intelligent person believes a word out of the media mouths.

Reply to  John Garrett
July 17, 2018 4:28 pm

These days if I heard someone on CNN say the sky is blue, I’d be tempted to look out the window to double-check.

July 17, 2018 6:52 am

I have a felling that before decommissioning day we will see these being sold off to a holding company , who will then turn out come decommissioning day not to have the money to carry-out this task . But oh dear it turns out they go bust and have nor real assists either , so guess who gets to pick up the bill?

July 17, 2018 6:53 am

WooHoo! Bishop Hill is back! Thank you for a terrific morale boost, your grace!

“A few days ago, the BBC’s Roger Harrabin mentioned a new suggestion that instead of cutting up redundant oil rigs”

More harradin obeisance and abject adherence to anything enviros or climate despots desire. Advocacy, at it’s most damaging.

The Energy Act (2004) grants The Department of Business, Energy and Industrial
Strategy (BEIS) discretionary powers to request decommissioning programmes and financial securities for offshore renewable energy installations (OREIs).

These powers provide a mechanism to ensure that OREIs are:
 appropriately decommissioned at the end of their useful life, and
 that funds are available to ensure costs do not default to the public sector

In addition, BEIS may be required to execute the role of decommissioner of last resort for offshore wind farms (OWF). In order to quantify the potential liability to BEIS, a cost model has been developed to estimate the total cost of decommissioning OWF in the UK.”

All hail the ultimate “What if” cost model!

“The total estimated decommissioning cost is £1.28bn to £3.64bn of which the liability to BEIS is estimated to be of £1.03bn to £2.94bn. The Crown Estate and The Scottish Government are potentially liable for the balance. The range of costs considers a range of factors which may impact cost outturn including:
 Potential for change in regulation which may affect whether some infrastructure can be left in situ;
 Uncertainty in the decommissioning methodology, i.e. what processes, tools and techniques are used to carry out the work; and
 Uncertainty in a number of key cost drivers, e.g. future vessel charter rates.

Potential uncertainties!? Lovely, the uncertainty principle run amok.

Why do they ignore uncertainties in climate data, inputs, assumptions and models?

“2.3 Uncertainties
The model is sensitive to vessel day rates and to certain activity durations. These are dealt with as specific scenarios in section 3.2. The model is also subject to uncertainties in decommissioning methodology and the decommissioning philosophy outlined in guidance and regulation, these effects are dealt with in section 3.3.
These uncertainties result in a multitude of scenarios, each resulting in a different estimate for the total decommissioning cost. While specific scenarios are considered in section 3, it is useful to visualise the inherent uncertainty on the overall cost forecasts in the form of likely high/low ranges.”

An open ended “what if” wish list for cost estimations with the sky is the limit.
Estimates that utterly lack actual cost estimates from experts submitted in response to official “requests for Proposals”.

Harrabin recommends converting offshore wind turbines into offshore reefs.
This suggestion is a ruse. Harrabin assumes that costs for turning wind turbines into reefs will be less, yet provides zero details about exactly why wind turbines turned into reefs will cost less.

Nor does Harrabin define any benefits for wind turbines as reefs.

Offshore artificial reef programs around the USA require decommissioned structures to be thoroughly cleansed of all hazardous materials and contaminants. Oil, grease, toxic materials, including certain metals must be stripped from the material intended for disposal. Somehow, I doubt that Great Britain or the EU requirements are less strenuous.

“Fiberglass and similar composites are considered poor materials for reefs.
“Guidelines for Marine Artificial Reef Materials, 2nd Edition (2004), GSMFC”
“Stability and durability information relating to fiberglass boats or boat molds used as artificial reefs is sporadic, and limited primarily to information on vessels or molds deployed less than 10 years.

Preliminary information suggests that fiberglass boat molds and vessels may have a limited functional lifespan as a stable artificial reef in waters less than 100 feet deep, even if ballasted and cabled together. Dade County, Florida, in 1985, placed fiberglass boat hulls in 47 feet of water, cabled them together, then cabled them to a steel barge. The hulls did not last long. Wave and current action caused the cable to saw through the hulls, splitting them into many pieces. The pieces either drifted into deeper water or were lost completely (Ben Mostkoff, personal communication).

Sarasota County, Florida, in the 1980s, deployed hundreds of fiberglass boat hulls and boat molds, distributing them among sites M1 (42 feet), M6 (55 feet), M10 (65 feet), D6 (110 feet), and D9 (100 feet). Despite chaining together and ballasting some of these boats, a decade later, none of the molds or fiberglass vessels can be located”

Apparently, Harrabin is happy to assume any debris dumped into the ocean and called a reef is all that is needed to please the glitterati and other shallow virtue signalers.

Harrabin is similarly happy that bloated cost estimates are suitable for alarming the populace into handing over funds, anything to avoid that cost estimate.
i.e. Another funding scam by the parasites.

And yes, I second the good Bishop’s observation that Harrabin and his allegedly green cohorts are shallow hypocrites, who refuse to conduct due diligence or apply common sense. Hence, this shallow minded crowd ignoring their past irrationalities and chasing their latest group think.

Reply to  ATheoK
July 17, 2018 8:39 am

It doesn’t seem fair to talk about “fiberglass boat molds and vessels” here, since the bases of oil rigs and wind turbines both are likely to be steel and/or concrete. FRP is significantly lower density, and would be very vulnerable to undersea currents, tides and storm wave action. As others have pointed out, there are a LOT of decommissioned oil rigs out there now, and they have not been breaking up and moving around.

Reply to  Hartley
July 17, 2018 10:06 am

I believe they are talking about the blades of the windmill.

Reply to  MarkW
July 17, 2018 1:24 pm

Tossing in the blades seems rather silly, as would the turbines themselves. The bases and towers are what would be both a) hard to remove and; b) of little salvage value.

Reply to  Hartley
July 17, 2018 5:02 pm

I doubt the blades would be re-usable.

richard verney
Reply to  MarkW
July 18, 2018 1:34 am

There are many articles and reports on this topic, and it is the blades that apparently pose the biggest problems with regard to recycling, so I do not know why your comment was down voted. I have upvoted it, which now makes your comment neutral.

Reply to  Hartley
July 18, 2018 6:56 pm

And wind turbine bases are constructed from?

Who is going to pay the divers to break up concrete at depth?. Instead, they’ll leave a concrete tower to slowly disintegrate in the salt water… That is minimal structure.

Fiberglass, actually composite material constructed boats and boat molds are a direct example of the composite Wind towers and blades.

The you conveniently overlook removing all hazardous materials from the turbine, oil, grease, coolant, copper, etc. Yes, copper is toxic to fish and much marine life. It’s why top grade boats have been sheathed in copper for centuries.

Joel O'Bryan
Reply to  ATheoK
July 17, 2018 9:33 am

I thought it was Benny Hill…. It’s not?

Reply to  ATheoK
July 17, 2018 11:56 am

Petroleum platforms seem more complicated than aquatic turbines, surface area of some importance for biotic attachment to concentrate available nutrients. This was proven by sunken ships in WWII along with other forgotten results. Not all substrates make good “reefs” such as was found about tires. You don’t just throw something out there, too often done nowadays, and get desired results whatever they might be.

Reply to  HDHoese
July 17, 2018 12:34 pm

I believe the offshore wind turbines are installed on a piled jacket. The jacket ought to have four legs, with some sort of cross members and braces.

John in cheshire
July 17, 2018 7:18 am

Brent Spa was owned by Shell, not BP. I was peripherally involved with the decommissioning project at the time and it was clear that Greenpeace had no interest in discussing options they just wanted to make as much trouble and garner as much publicity for themselves as possible. And that meant painting Shell in as bad a light as possible and protracting the issue for as long as possible. I had actually contributed to Greenpeace up to that point, then I saw them for what they really were/are and from then on and now I can’t stand the sight of them.

Reply to  John in cheshire
July 17, 2018 7:47 am

Exactly. I wasn’t involved with the Spar, but we had a research area to understand where the disposal costs and benefits to the ecosystem and fishing industry were optimized. After the Spar fiasco we suspended that line of research for the UK offshore. The changed approach cost the British tax payer hundreds of millions of pounds. And they can thank Greenpeace for it.

Alan Tomalty
Reply to  John in cheshire
July 17, 2018 10:22 am

I suspect that you mean that Greenpeace are now socialist/communist sympathizers

Joel O’Bryan
July 17, 2018 7:43 am

Sweden has already decommissioned and removed its first 5 Turbine offshore wind farm.
Came to about €1million per turbine to remove, clear the sea bed, and remove the cables.

Off shore turbines are only lasting 10-15 years due to the corrosive environment and cost of maintenance. Compare that to 25 years for land -based. The economics are very bad. It’s is only through massive subsidies and willfull ignoring the real end-of-service life costs that these things are being installed at all.

Reply to  Joel O’Bryan
July 17, 2018 8:42 am

I think they can probably be built to last 50 years (oil platforms do), but they’ll need to use much better coatings and paint, seal the turbine as airtight as possible, and have periodic painting programs. That should create lots of high paid jobs.

Joel O'Bryan
Reply to  Fernando L
July 17, 2018 9:28 am

The problem is that oil platforms actually continue produce something that makes the economics work for its long-term maintenance.

The economics of wind turbines do not adequately capture the increasing levels of maintenance and replacements as the stack ages in the corrosive environment. Oil platforms are usually manned by a maintenance and work skilled work staff because the economics work in favor of doing so.

No one lives on wind turbines…. yet.

Reply to  Joel O'Bryan
July 17, 2018 12:40 pm

But we don’t use the platform crew to do painting. And the idea is to have subsidized wind power. So all they have to do is ask for a bit higher subsidy. The neat thing is the offshore maintenance will keep a ton of people employed. I’m visualizing dozens of boats leaving Great Yarmouth full of painters, riggers, inspectors, safety types, medics, divers, and deck hands. What a boom.

Steven Fraser
Reply to  Fernando L
July 17, 2018 1:42 pm

And maybe they could sell rides on slower-wind days.

Reply to  Fernando L
July 17, 2018 3:10 pm

“…And the idea is to have subsidized wind power. So all they have to do is ask for a bit higher subsidy. The neat thing is the offshore maintenance will keep a ton of people employed. I’m visualizing dozens of boats leaving Great Yarmouth full of painters, riggers, inspectors, safety types, medics, divers, and deck hands. What a boom.”

Thank-you Dr. Marx. BTW, I’m available for breaking windows, when ya see the economy slumping…Call me at: 1-800-5yr-plan…

Johann Wundersamer
Reply to  Fernando L
July 17, 2018 11:48 am
Patrick MJD
Reply to  Joel O’Bryan
July 17, 2018 5:45 pm

One of the most effective corrosion prevention technologies deployed are sacrificial anodes.

richard verney
Reply to  Joel O’Bryan
July 18, 2018 1:50 am

One cannot compare the problems that beset off-shore wind turbines with on shore wind turbines.

First, on land the profile of the wind is stable reflecting to contour of the land. However, at sea, the wind fluctuates with the waves and swell. This means that the dynamic forces on the rotor blades, its shaft and bearings is constantly fluctuating, as the wind conditions on the lower blade near the sea surface is rather different to that of the high blade some 100 metres or so above the sea surface. There is inevitably much more shaft and bearing stress and seal wear, on off-shore wind turbines.

Second, the sea air is very abrasive, containing salt (and possibly sand if close to the shore) such that the wear on the leading edges of the rotor blades will be severe, in the case of off-shore wind turbines. This will mean that performance will significantly reduce even after just a few years as the blade edges become rough and ragged. Essentially, the blades are being shot blasted!

Third, it is very difficult to carry out maintenance at sea, especially on tall structures. A crane on land, even in windy conditions can provide a stable connection. Contrast that to a floating crane which is impacted by swell and waves, even if the supply vessel has dynamic positioning. So schedules maintenance is very difficult since weather may not play ball and there may be large standby costs.

Thus one might get more wind at sea than on shore, but the environmental conditions are far tougher and performance will drop off quicker off-shore, and it will be more costly and difficult to maintain the wind turbines in efficient working order.

Gary Pearse
July 17, 2018 7:48 am

Didnt include decommissioning costs. An engineering firm would be charged with criminal negligence for this (I’m sure they included this, but it was not included in the official reporting – obviously they were able to produce it for this story). An engineering report always states that no alterations are to he made without consent of the authors. They even give signed permission for press releases covering technical and cost matters and advise the report is to be used solely for the purpose contracted for and that the report is a whole indivisible product.

In a feasibility study for mining in Canada, they include reclamation at decommissioning in great detail and it must be fully funded, 50% down and the balance at startup.

July 17, 2018 8:37 am

It seems the concept of TCOO (total cost of ownership) is lost on the greens – Car engines that shut off at every light, mining and decommissioning for/of rare-earth batteries, building/installing/retiring wind turbines. None of that ancillary cost matters to them – only the instantaneous pollution-per-watt concerns them.

Reply to  MikeSYR
July 17, 2018 11:05 am

I await the day that the engine auto-shut off fails catastrophically at 85mph on the 5….

July 17, 2018 10:31 am

I seem to remember that a senior Shell executive at the time was quoted as saying that the environmental impact of sinking the decommissioned Brent Spar over a deep trench in the Atlantic (the preferred option of both Shell and the range of government scientific experts it consulted) would be comparable to dropping a pin into Loch Ness.

I wonder why that didn’t grab the headlines and demolish Greenpeace’s shameless scaremongering…

Reply to  Roderick
July 17, 2018 12:43 pm

The British government works in mysterious ways.

richard verney
Reply to  Fernando L
July 18, 2018 1:54 am

Governments are beholden to green NGOs.

July 17, 2018 11:29 am

Uh, it costs a considerable amount just to cut down and scuttle these massive, ungainly structures. The prevailing assumption seems to be that it will be cost-free compared to proper “decommissioning” and disposal. Guess again.

Tom Abbott
July 17, 2018 2:42 pm

Will the windmills be replaced by new windmills? Or is it just a one-time deal?

Reply to  Tom Abbott
July 17, 2018 5:03 pm

Hopefully it’s just a one time deal.
I’d have to keep up the subsidies for another generation of the beasts.

July 17, 2018 4:55 pm

“They estimate that if a cash security was required up front, it would add nearly 5% to the levelised cost.”

I’d be surprised if it ends up being that low.

July 17, 2018 5:14 pm

All of the costs are sunk

July 17, 2018 7:02 pm

Life in the sea is based on no small part on the amount of hard surface that briazoa, corals, and other forms of that type have available. If one goes big game fishing in the Gulf off Louisiana you get to troll past oil rigs, and bottom sport fishing in the Gulf is based on man made reefs formed of old ships cleaned of pollutants and sunk.

Snarling Dolphin
July 17, 2018 7:33 pm

We should throw wind turbines into the ocean as fast as we can haul them there. Maybe dump a few in Oroville for good measure.

Ian Macdonald
July 17, 2018 10:57 pm

I imagine you’ll find that the companies which built the turbines will quietly fold once the subsidies stop flowing, so the decomissioning will be a SEP.

July 17, 2018 11:42 pm

It is good for fish though, creates islands where they cant be trawled, and shelter for all kinds of fish from predators. The US in fact has often done this with old ships, and even cars.

Tom Abbott
Reply to  MattS
July 18, 2018 7:09 am

“It is good for fish though, creates islands where they cant be trawled”

Good point.

richard verney
July 18, 2018 12:56 am


Brent Spar was a Shell matter, not a BP matter. This ought to be corrected so as not to get the likes of BP up in arms.


Brent Spar, or Brent E, was a North Sea oil storage and tanker loading buoy in the Brent oilfield, operated by Shell UK. With the completion of a pipeline connection to the oil terminal at Sullom Voe in Shetland, the storage facility had continued in use, but by 1991, was considered to be of no further value. Brent Spar became an issue of public concern in 1995, when the British government announced its support for Shell’s application for its disposal in deep Atlantic waters at North Feni Ridge (approximately 160 mi (250 km) from the west coast of Scotland, at a depth of around 1.6 mi (2.5 km)).

July 18, 2018 2:27 am

If you thought it was the worst, can it still get worst?

July 18, 2018 7:11 am

The fundamental principal of regulated utilities has become a game of hide the cost overrun that was most prominent with nuclear power but continues with offshore wind farms.

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