European institutions have called on the EU to address decommissioning of floating oil and gas structures as these fall under the same rules as commercial ships, and would therefore have to follow the EU Ship Recycling Regulation.
The European Economic and Social Committee (EESC) and three Green Members of the European Parliament have highlighted the paradox between the strict rules under OSPAR for the decommissioning of fixed oil platforms from the North Sea with the rules that govern the recycling of floating platforms and structures.
There are a growing number of unutilised and obsolete floating oil and gas structures which have been operating in the North Sea. These structures are effectively floating industrial plants, which need to be dismantled using the highest standards of precaution, many containing asbestos and residues of naturally occurring radioactive material (NORM).
So far, assets from the North Sea have not ended up on the South Asian beaches with the infamous exception of the FPSO tanker North Sea Producer, according to NGO Shipbreaking Platform, however, more structures from other oil fields were towed across the globe to be beached in South Asia for dirty and dangerous scrapping.
“There is a real concern that we will see more rigs and oil and gas assets ending up there, and cash buyers, such as GMS, and marine service providers, such as Aqualis, have had no shame in their efforts to attract the owners of these structures to sell them to the beaches,” the Platform said.
During a conference hosted by the EESC on June 22, the presentations by the port of Fredrikshaven and the Spanish recycler DDR informed that there is a real business case for Europe and the regions with a recycling capacity to be promoted through a financial incentive.
Although many participants and speakers, including the EU Commission, acknowledged the positive effects and the added value in ensuring that floating rigs and ships are recycled in EU-listed facilities, “most ship owners still do not see themselves as participants in finding sustainable solutions to cleaning up the recycling of their assets,” NGO Shipbreaking Platform said.