OSLO, Aug 23 (Reuters) - The topside of Repsol's faulty Yme oil platform was removed from the field offshore Norway on Monday, Swiss-based heavy-lift vessel owner Allseas said, a key hurdle for the Spanish oil firm's planned sale of the production license.
Using the giant Pioneering Spirit vessel, the removal in a single lift of the 13,500-tonnes topside marks a new step in decommissioning of offshore oil platforms, which previously had to be taken apart piece by piece, meaning longer operations.
"This was the first time in the world that a topside was lifted in a single lift," Jeroen Hagelstein, a spokesman for Allseas said in an email on Tuesday.
The next job for the vessel, which looks like a gigantic catamaran, will be to remove four topsides at Shell's Brent field offshore Britain in 2017, he added.
The Yme platform, previously operated by Canada's Talisman, and now by Repsol, has sat unmanned since 2012, when its staff was evacuated due to cracks found in the platform's legs, before it could produce any oil.
Norwegian startup oil firm OKEA, which includes the country's former oil minister Ola Borten Moe, agreed in January to acquire Repsol's 60-percent stake in the Yme field for an undisclosed sum.
Repsol has previously said it plans to complete the OKEA agreement in 2016 following the removal of Yme's platform and subject to submitting and obtaining approval of an updated plan for development.
Repsol was not immediately available for comment on Tuesday.
French Veolia has won a contract to dismantle Yme's topside at a yard in Lutelandet, Western Norway.
(Reporting by Nerijus Adomaitis, editing by Terje Solsvik)
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