Energy / BP insists industrial waste will be recovered

The oil giant has been criticised for temporarily dumping equipment from the Petrojarl Foinaven on the seabed

BP HAS given a categorical reassurance that 2,400 tonnes of industrial waste will be recovered and decommissioned after the oil company came under fire for planning to dump 12 pipes and risers on to the seabed in the Faroe-Shetland sponge belt marine protected area.

The work is part of the removal of the floating production vessel Petrojarl Foinaven, 120 miles to the west of Shetland.

The plans, approved by the Offshore Petroleum Regulator for the Environment and Decommissioning (Opred), have been criticised by Greenpeace and a local councillor.

Allowing BP to get away with dumping tonnes of steel on the seabed would set a “worrying precedent”, according to Green councillor Alex Armitage.

BP said that 12 risers and the umbilicals connected to the production vessel would be dropped in a controlled manner, and the company is committed to recovery in the future for reuse or disposal onshore.

A spokesperson for the company was unable to say when the equipment will be recovered, adding that recovery plans were in place but BP did not comment on operational matters.


The Petrojarl Foinaven was the first floating, production, storage and offloading vessel to be deployed in the hard conditions to the west of Shetland. It has been producing oil since 1996 and is now in the process of being decommissioned.

BP said the decision to disconnect and dump the equipment before recovering it at a later date had been taken due to safety concerns.

The company said the predicted impact on the marine protection area will be minimal with an estimated worst case scenario of 67,000 square metres seabed (6.7 hectares/16.5 acres), or 0.002 per cent of the area of the sponge belt protected area.

A spokesperson for BP said: “Our plans to recover and dispose of the Foinaven risers and our commitments to minimise impact on the environment as part of our decommissioning process remain unchanged.

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“Solely due to safety considerations, our proposed method of disconnecting the risers has changed, but our plans to recover and dispose of the risers have not. However, it will still be done in a controlled and sequenced manner.”

However, for many in the isles the scenario has ‘Brent Spar’ written all over it.

Back in 1995, following months-long protests by environmentalists and motorists alike, Shell made a last minute U-turn and decided against dumping the oil storage and tanker loading buoy in the Atlantic and instead brought her ashore for decommissioning

It marked the start of the oil installation decommissioning sector which is now is providing significant local employment.

Councillor Armitage said BP is making billions of pounds of profit every year and has a clear responsibility to clear up after themselves.

“Allowing them to get away with dumping tonnes of steel on the seabed sets a worrying precedent for our decommissioning industry here in Shetland which is an important provider of local employment,” he said.

“The future requires a shift in attitude towards natural resources. As well as a rapid transition to new renewable energy sources, we need to be reusing and recycling energy intensive materials such as steel.

“It sad to see that companies such as BP yet again behind the curve on this.”

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