Murchison - a new collection

The well-known Murchison platform may have been decommissioned, but its history is being preserved in a new archive collection at the University of Aberdeen, following a joint project by CNR International and Capturing the Energy.

The Murchison oil platform James FitzpatrickThe Murchison field is one of the most northerly in UK waters, with high winds, icy rain and huge waves throughout the year. Despite this, the Murchison platform was seen by many as the friendliest in the North Sea.

First oil from the Murchison came ashore in September 1980. Now, after 34 years and around 400 million barrels of production, only the footings remain of the 27,000-tonne, 250m-high structure.

Throughout the decommissioning phase, CNR worked closely with Capturing the Energy to produce and analyse a comprehensive inventory of physical records relating to Murchison, in order to identify those which were suitable for permanent retention within the University's Oil and Gas Archive.

Subsequently, a large volume of electronic records, collated as part of the decom project, was also earmarked for transfer to the University. All in all, around 40 boxes of paper documents and several gigabytes of digital files will be added to the archive.

Murchison oil platform name plateThe collection includes:

  • Safety Cases
  • Installation Manuals
  • General Arrangements
  • OIM Diaries & Log Books
  • Incident Reports
  • Operating Agreements
  • Photos and Videos

and much, much more.

The Murchison platform already lives on in the form of a 1:33 scale model in the Aberdeen Maritime Museum, and now also through these key historical documents and the recollections of some of those who lived and worked offshore.

This collection is a hugely significant addition to the Oil & Gas Archive, and Capturing the Energy hopes it will be followed by many more in the years to come as decommissioning picks up pace in the UK sector of the North Sea.

Murchison gas flare stack towerThe benefits of this project to its partners are as follows:

Capturing the Energy: an excellent collection that tells the story of a well-known platform throughout its 40-year lifespan, enabling future research by academics and the general public into its construction, operation and management.

CNR: proper management of information relating to a decommissioned asset, minimising the burden of long-term retention whilst ensuring that regulatory needs are met, and a legacy for the company with opportunities to publicise its activities to a wide audience.

If you want to find out how you can follow in the footsteps of this successful project and contribute to a permanent public record of this remarkable industry, email

Take a look at the stunning images below showing the removal of the Murchison topsides in 2016 using the Heerema Thialf semi-submersible crane vessel. Images courtesy of CNR International.