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Shell North Sea Lifeboats Dangerous Farce No. 3 

By John Donovan

A lifeboat has fallen off the Shell Brent Alpha platform in the North Sea Brent field. See article below: “Shell launches investigation after lifeboat plunges from platform”.

In March 2008, Shell made itself the object of derision when it was discovered that two lifeboats on the Brent Bravo platform in the Brent field were unseaworthy. The problem was similar in nature to the latest dangerous fiasco, involving faulty lifeboat clutches and how the lifeboats were secured on the platform. 

Extracts from an article published 14 March 2008: Lifeboats trouble at Brent field

“If they had loaded up this particular lifeboat, the chances are it could have been launched into the sea in an uncontrolled fashion which would have caused death or injury as it was held in place by corrosion and not by the designed system,” claimed Molloy.

The Health&Safety Executive said: “Both lifeboats have now been repaired and Shell has checked that all the lifeboats on Brent Bravo are fault free and fit for purpose. Shell is now checking the boats on the rest of its Brent field.”

The 2008 article mentioned an almost identical incident from a year earlier, when a “lifeboat launched itself into the sea from Shell’s Tern platform as the brakes and clutches were dysfunctional”.

All of the pledges of “Safety being the No. 1 priority and measures, such as the appointment of a so-called Shell Safety Czar, have all proven to be worthless. 

After three repeats of the same basic failings, this must surely amount to gross negligence on the part of Shell senior executives? There should be an outcry from the offshore unions and the Health & Safety Executive?

If, God forbid, platform workers are seriously injured or killed in a further incident involving unsafe lifeboats on Shell platforms, relevant Shell executives will rightly be vilified and potentially held criminally responsible. 

Interested to see what Bill Campbell has to say on the subject. 

Shell has launched an investigation after a North Sea platform lifeboat plunged into the sea.

The incident unfolded on the Brent Alpha during maintenance work. The lifeboat’s clutch is believed to have slipped causing it to fall off the platform on Saturday. Crews recovered the boat early today.

A Shell spokesperson told the BBC it was looking into the incident.

The Brent field, operated by Shell, lies off the north-east coast of Scotland, midway between the Shetland Islands and Norway. It is one of the largest fields in the North Sea.

The field is currently being decommissioned.

Last week, Shell exclusively revealed to Energy Voice that the steel jacket for its Brent Alpha platform will be taken to Norway for scrapping.

The structure was expected to go to Able UK’s yard in Hartlepool as part of a deal agreed between the two companies in 2014.

But Steve Phimister, upstream vice president for the UK and Ireland at Shell, confirmed that the top part of the jacket would go to AF Gruppen’s yard at Vats instead.


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