Government wants right to dump 60 oil platforms in North Sea

THE Government is seeking the option of dumping more than 60 oil platforms in the North Sea when they come to the end of their natural lives, despite the international protests provoked by the attempt to dump the giant oil storage buoy Brent Spar.

Its stance is likely to re-ignite the protests and provide Labour with one of its thorniest public-relations problems since taking office, especially as Michael Meacher, the environment minister, promised the Labour party conference last October: "There will be no more Brent Spars under Labour."

Greenpeace, which forced Shell, Brent Spar's operators, into a dramatic U-turn in 1995 with its campaign of occupying the installation and organising Europe-wide petrol boycotts, said yesterday the Government's move was "totally unacceptable."

Simon Reddy, the group's decommisioning campaigner, said : " This policy means there will be over 60 potential Brent Spars under Labour. So much for their promises. This is folly, and if the Government does this it will be dramatically at odds with international public opinion."

The vast majority of European countries want a permanent ban on dumping any disused oil installations in the sea.

However, in compliance with the wishes of the British oil industry, the Government is striving to keep a major loophole in the treaty to be signed in July which will prohibit dumping and insist that platforms be dismantled and brought ashore.

It wants a get-out clause for the biggest steel platforms, those in more than 75 metres of water and weighing more than 4,000 tonnes. The oil industry argues that dismantling some of these giant installations may be too technologically difficult, too dangerous, and - not least - too expensive, and, in some cases, a better option would be to topple them over where they stand, on to the sea bed.

"We need to look at large deep-water installations on a case-by-case basis, so that the solution takes account of safety and also of cost and economic impact," said James May, Director-General of the UK Offshore Operators Association (UKOOA), the body that represents Britain's North Sea oil companies. Bringing a large platform ashore and dismantling it could cost "tens of millions of pounds," Mr May said.

There are 64 such installations in United Kingdom waters, most of which will come to the end of their natural lives between 2010 and 2020.

The Government is actively pressing for the loophole and officials will try and secure it at a three-day preliminary meeting, beginning in London tomorrow, of the OSPAR convention for the protection of the marine environment of the north-east Atlantic.

Britain is supported in its stance by Norway, whose companies own most of the other large steel platforms in the North Sea. However, it is being opposed by the other thirteen parties to the convention, which include Germany, France and most of the countries of western Europe. They argue that what has been installed must be capable of being dismantled and that the techniques are, or soon will be, available.

Brent Spar was the first large North Sea oil installation up for disposal. Shell are proposing turning it into a ferry terminal in a Norwegian fjord.

Suggested Topics
News
peopleFrankie Boyle responds to referendum result in characteristically offensive style
News
news
Life and Style
Couples have been having sex less in 2014, according to a new survey
life
New Articles
i100... with this review
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Voices
Holly's review of Peterborough's Pizza Express quickly went viral on social media
Sport
footballTim Sherwood: This might be th match to wake up Manchester City
Arts and Entertainment
musicHow female vocalists are now writing their own hits
New Articles
i100
News
news
Arts and Entertainment
musicBiographer Hunter Davies has collected nearly a hundred original manuscripts
News
Blahnik says: 'I think I understand the English more than they do themselves'
people
Arts and Entertainment
Michelle Dockery as Lady Mary Crawley in Downton Abbey
TVInside Downton Abbey series 5
Life and Style
The term 'normcore' was given the oxygen of publicity by New York magazine during the autumn/winter shows in Paris in February
fashionWhen is a trend a non-trend? When it's Normcore, since you ask
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Marketing Manager - Leicestershire - £35,000

£30000 - £35000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Marketing Manager (CIM, B2B, MS Offi...

Marketing Executive (B2B and B2C) - Rugby, Warwickshire

£22000 - £25000 per annum: Ashdown Group: A highly successful organisation wit...

SEN Coordinator + Teacher (SENCO)

£1 per day: Randstad Education Leeds: Job Purpose To work closely with the he...

Research Manager - Quantitative/Qualitative

£32000 - £42000 Per Annum: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: Our client is curr...

Day In a Page

Scottish referendum: The Yes vote was the love that dared speak its name, but it was not to be

Despite the result, this is the end of the status quo

Boyd Tonkin on the fall-out from the Scottish referendum
Manolo Blahnik: The high priest of heels talks flats, Englishness, and why he loves Mary Beard

Manolo Blahnik: Flats, Englishness, and Mary Beard

The shoe designer who has been dubbed 'the patron saint of the stiletto'
The Beatles biographer reveals exclusive original manuscripts of some of the best pop songs ever written

Scrambled eggs and LSD

Behind The Beatles' lyrics - thanks to Hunter Davis's original manuscript copies
'Normcore' fashion: Blending in is the new standing out in latest catwalk non-trend

'Normcore': Blending in is the new standing out

Just when fashion was in grave danger of running out of trends, it only went and invented the non-trend. Rebecca Gonsalves investigates
Dance’s new leading ladies fight back: How female vocalists are now writing their own hits

New leading ladies of dance fight back

How female vocalists are now writing their own hits
Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
How to make a Lego masterpiece

How to make a Lego masterpiece

Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam