Oil companies `find themselves in an untenable position'

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This is the text of Shell UK's Brent Spar statement in full:

"Shell UK Limited still believes that deep-water disposal of the Brent Spar is the best practicable environmental option, which was supported by independent studies. Shell UK obtained the necessary permit for disposal from the United Kingdom authorities which have handled every aspect of the approval process in accordance with established national and international policies and standards.

"As the disposal involved the Atlantic deep water, other governments have taken an interest and voiced strong objections. Notwithstanding the efforts to convince these governments of the validity of the approach, most of them remain strongly against deep-water disposal.

"The European companies of the Royal Dutch/Shell Group find themselves in an untenable position and feel that it is not possible to continue without wider support from the governments participating in the Oslo-Paris Convention.

"Shell UK has decided to abandon deep-water disposal and seek from the UK authorities a licence for onshore disposal. This application for onshore disposal will include a further review of methods to minimise the risks involved.

"The way forward will require the co-operation of all concerned, in particular the support of other governments in securing the availability of a deep- water safe anchorage for Brent Spar in the immediate future."