Scotland’s EPA bars oil rigs from leaving port

Three oil rigs have been barred from leaving a Scottish port by the Scottish Environmental Protection Agency (Sepa) which wishes first to ensure that plans for their disposal comply with EU and UN waste regulations.

The rigs – Ocean Princess, Ocean Nomad and Ocean Vanguard – were recently sold to GMS, which was said on a regular basis to use Asian scrapyards, where environmental standards were felt to be lower.

European Commission regulations ban the export of hazardous waste to certain countries in the Asian sub-continent, including India, Bangladesh and Pakistan.

Sepa chief officer John Kenny said that last week the agency had been made aware of the imminent shipment of three oil rigs from the Cromarty Firth, and concerns about their destination and disposal.

Sepa began investigations to establish whether movement of the vessels would be in accordance with EC regulations for waste shipments and issued an immediate direction preventing movement of the vessels.

Investigations are still ongoing.

Ocean Princess, Ocean Nomad and Ocean Vanguard were mothballed by Diamond Offshore in the Cromarty Firth in 2014 and 2015. Concerns about the rigs were first raised with Sepa by the Belgian NGO Shipbreaking Platform, which is funded by the EC.