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Spike in the number of decommissioned vessels related to the oil and gas industry


Brussels, 3 May 2016 – In the last few months, the NGO Shipbreaking Platform has documented more and more oil platforms, drill ships and other vessels related to the oil industry arriving for demolition on the beaches of South Asia as well as in Turkey and China. The Platform calls on the large oil and gas companies – such as BP, Shell, ExxonMobil, Petrobras, Total, and Chevron – to ensure that their business partners, that is, companies specialized in drill ships, companies leasing oil platforms, as well as tanker companies, commit to clean and safe recycling off the beach.

There are a variety of platforms and vessels that function in the offshore oil industry, but the ones that the Platform most concerned with are those that can move on their own. Fixed platforms and compliant towers are attached to the ocean floor with giant submerged steel or concrete towers and are not transported around the world for demolition. However, semi-submersible platforms, drill ships, and floating production systems (FPSO – Floating Production, Storage and Offloading System) move on their own and are likely to end up on the shipbreaking beaches of South Asia.

Last year, the Platform documented the decommissioning of a total of 24 vessels related to the oil and gas industry (13 drill platforms, 1 drill ship, 8 FPSOs and 2 semi-submersibles). Out of the 24, the majority were sold to yards in Aliaga, Turkey (13 out of 24), the rest being divided between Bangladesh with 6, India with 3 and Pakistan with 2. So far in 2016, 4 such vessels have been documented for breaking: two drill ships to India, an FPSO to Pakistan and a drill-platform to Turkey.

In 2015 the main contractors, that is, drilling companies that contract out to oil companies, which sold end-of-life vessels were Noble Drilling Corporation, Diamond Offshore Limited, Global Santa Fe International Drilling Incorporated, and Transocean Offshore Deepwater Drilling Incorporated. For now, in 2016, Noble Drilling Corporation, Transocean and Diamond make appearances along with The National Shipping Company of Saudi Arabia.

Beached semi-submersible in Alang, India, 2016

Of particular interest are the stories of the drilling rig Noble Discoverer and the drill ship Ocean Clipper. The Noble Discoverer, a drilling rig owned by Noble Drilling Corporation, yet contracted by Shell, ended up in Alang, India in 2016. Artic Watch, a focus group that belong to Greenpeace which focuses on conducting investigations, intelligence, news and insights on the oil dynamics in the arctic, initially reported on the case. The Ocean Clipper, a drill ship that was owner by Diamond Offshore Limited and contracted to Petrobras, the Brazilian oil giant, ended up in Alang in 2016. The story of the Ocean Clipper is unfortunately a familiar one, resembling that of the oil rig Noble Paul Wolff, also contracted by Petrobras for operations off the Brazilian coast up until November 2014. In Spring 2015, Noble Corporation, sold the structure to Bangladeshi yard Siri Zubedar, aided by a cash buyer. Siri Zudebar holds a particularly bad reputation after the Platform and National Geographic documented severe and fatal accidents that took place in the yard over recent years. Noble Corporation did not respond to the Platform’s outreach for dialogue, showing no improvement in responsible behavior.