Greenpeace activists have returned to the Brent oil and gas field in the UK North Sea to protest against oil major Shell’s decommissioning plans for the field.

The environmental group’s ship ‘Esperanza’ approached the 500m exclusion zone around one of the Shell-operated Brent field platforms.

The Brent oil and gas field is located 186km offshore, north-east of Lerwick, Scotland, at a water depth of 140m (460ft) in the north-east of the Shetland Islands. It is situated midway between the Shetland Islands and Norway.

Greenpeace Germany marine biologist Christian Bussau said: “Shell still wants to cheaply dismantle the platforms, and the UK Government is colluding with them to allow it.

“Shell’s profit-before-people business model is blocking an opportunity to create jobs to dispose of the 11,000t of oil and parts of the platform that must be removed in an environmentally friendly manner. Shell must urgently get out of the dirty oil and gas industry and pivot its business to renewable energy.”

The Brent field gave name to the ‘crude oil benchmark’, which is used to price the biggest part of the internationally traded crude oil.

Operated by Shell, Brent is served by four large platforms, namely Alpha, Bravo, Charlie and Delta. Of the four, only Charlie still produces oil.

Bussau added: “While the rest of the world has moved on, Shell apparently still believes the world is its garbage dump, just as it did 25 years ago.

“If we don’t immediately transition to renewable energy we’re going to see more leaks and oil spills, more fossil fuel-driven inequality and more exacerbated extreme weather events like the floods, fires and storms we’re seeing everywhere.”

Total recently suspended operations at its Dan Bravo oil field in the Danish North Sea after four Greenpeace activists climbed aboard to protest the country’s continued focus on the exploitation of fossil fuels.

Last June, a BP-owned oil rig bound for the North Sea was forced to make its second U-turn in 48 hours as a result of protest action by Greenpeace activists.