Six jumbo jets long … the £2.4bn ship that can lift an oil rig HomeNewsOil and GasSix jumbo jets long … the £2.4bn ship that can lift an oil rig

As the Pioneering Spirit prepares for a record-breaking lift for Shell, we look at its role in cleaning up the North Sea

Festooned with cranes, oil pipelines and manned by a crew of several hundred, the Pioneering Spirit sits in the port of Rotterdam like a giant marine version of a forklift truck.

Next month this vessel, one of the world’s largest ships, will arrive in the North Sea and attempt to remove the 24,500-tonne top of a Shell oil rig installed during the oil boom years of the 1970s. If successful it will be the heaviest ever single lift of a rig’s “topside”, and only the second by this purpose-built $3bn (£2.4bn) ship.

Related: North Sea oil is in its death throes. But the industry has one last grand act left | Ian Jack

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