Dumped oil rigs `could enhance the seabed’

Disposal of redundant oil platforms at sea can be a sustainable activity and could potentially enhance the environment, it was claimed in an Institution of Civil Engineers debate last week. If platforms were adequately cleaned, there would be no adverse environmental effect, said Dr Mike Cloughley. Furthermore, `fish congregate and breed around wrecks and offshore […]

Disposal of redundant oil platforms at sea can be a sustainable activity and could potentially enhance the environment, it was claimed in an Institution of Civil Engineers debate last week.

If platforms were adequately cleaned, there would be no adverse environmental effect, said Dr Mike Cloughley. Furthermore, `fish congregate and breed around wrecks and offshore platforms’.

Cloughley, executive secretary of the Oil Industry International Exploration and Production Forum, said research showed that bringing deepwater steel platforms ashore for recycling consumed as much energy as leaving parts of platforms on the seabed and mining and smelting new iron ore.

The question was solely one of economics. Complete removal could cost $50m more than toppling a platform in situ, said Cloughley.

Opposing dumping, Lord Melchett, Greenpeace executive director, said that `the sea should not be used as a out of sight, out of mind dumping ground’.

He accused the Government and the oil industry of appearing `to have spent at least two years secretly planning to make dumping the Brent Spar a precedent for a massive oil industry rubbish dump in the North-east Atlantic’.

The meeting voted 27 to 23 in favour of the motion that `abandoned oil platforms are an enhancement to the seabed’.