OFFSHORE energy union RMT today raised concerns over the North Sea decommissioning industry, following the cash sale of three semi-submersible drilling platforms to a company that transports offshore oil and gas infrastructure to be scrapped in India and Bangladesh.
The platforms predominantly worked in the UK North Sea, have a combined age of 119 years and are currently cold stacked in the Cromarty Firth. There is existing capacity in Scotland to carry out this decommissioning, recycling and scrapping work.
Mick Cash, RMT General Secretary said:
“This is a kick in the teeth for offshore workers here, not to mention a continuation of the disgraceful practice of dumping ships and oil and gas infrastructure on South Asian beaches, where workers are regularly killed and injured in highly dangerous and poorly protected conditions.
” 160,000 jobs have gone from installations and the offshore oil and gas supply chain since 2014, yet the Government has failed to establish the growing decommissioning industry on terms that increase jobs and deepen the UK skills base.
“This Government seems incapable of getting a fair deal from the oil and gas industry and it must immediately commit to regulating the decommissioning sector in the interests of UK workers and the economy.”
RMT National Secretary, Steve Todd said:
“Alongside the news that Stena Drilling is planning to cut yet more jobs in the North Sea, this decommissioning scandal highlights the Tory Government’s complete dereliction of its duty to provide jobs and a sustainable future for UK offshore workers.
“The fact that they seem prepared to allow the decommissioning sector to adopt the shipping industry’s unethical exploitation of poor coastal communities in India, Pakistan and Bangladesh when disposing of retired vessels speaks volumes.
” These rigs are in the Cromarty Firth and could quite easily be dismantled and recycled at local facilities in Scotland. Conservative Ministers have questions to answer and RMT will continue to work to hold this chaotic Government to account for its continued failure to protect offshore workers from unsustainable and unethical profiteering.”
1.The Marshall Islands registered Ocean Guardian and Ocean Nomad and the unregistered Ocean Nomad semi-submersible drilling rigs have been sold by Diamond Drilling to GMS. These rigs have a combined age of 119 years and a combined weight of over 30,000 in gross tonnage.
2.The rigs, which were used by the major oil and gas companies predominantly in the UKCS over working lives have been retired from service and are currently cold staked in the Cromarty Firth awaiting decommissioning.
3.Fixed platforms will be decommissioned at their location whilst semi-submersible platforms, drill ships and floating production systems are more likely to end up being sold for cash and scrapped in Asia. As exploration and production declines in the North Sea, the number of these platforms and other infrastructure being decommissioned will increase. The Government expects £17 billion to be spent on North Sea decommissioning by 2025, with companies entitled to tax relief of up to 60% on this essential clean-up work.
4.According to the UN Conference on Trade & Development’s (UNCTAD) report into maritime transport 2017, four countries – India, Bangladesh, Pakistan and China – accounted for 94.9% of the world’s ships which were scrapped in 2016. Around 1,000 large commercial vessels are scrapped every year.
5.52 workers were killed and hundreds injured in the shipbreaking industry in three separate incidents, in Bangladesh, Pakistan and India in 2016 alone.
6.The United Nations Hong Kong Convention on the Safe and Environmentally Sound Recycling of Ships is expected to enter into force internationally at the end of 2017.