A YouTuber has been branded “beyond reckless” after scaling a North Sea oil rig laid up in the Cromarty Firth.
Video creator “Exploring with Josh”, whose channel boasts over four million subscribers, filmed himself and companions climbing aboard the cold-stacked Ocean Princess oil rig, which he described as “abandoned”.
The trio are seen in the video, which gained over 150,000 views before being deleted, climbing scaffolding and walkways, the control room and other long-shuttered parts of the rig, saying “we’re going in hard, risking my life”.
In the footage, the Youtuber is seen inspecting parts of the control room with “radioactive” warnings, climbing through the accommodation quarters and locker room, which he likens to a “horror movie”, and having to row back to shore after the engine on his rubber dinghy breaks.
‘Extremely dangerous and irresponsible’
Exploring with Josh’s channel includes abandoned castles, mansions and casinos, among others, and the oil rig appears to be a first.
However, Highlands and Islands MSP Maree Todd blasted the behaviour as putting himself and others, such as first responders, at risk for the sake of social media.
She said: “Those who work on oil rigs are required to follow strict protocols and undergo comprehensive training before stepping foot on a rig.
“To see three unqualified individuals blatantly breach safety measures – in the name of social media content – is beyond reckless.
“This type of stunt not only puts their own lives at risk, but also endangers the lives of those who may be called out to conduct a rescue operation.
“I hope to see this matter and those involved investigated further to avoid similar events like this taking place in the future.”
Police Scotland said it is aware of the video and liaising with the rig owners and the Port of Cromarty Firth as it assesses the contents.
The Port of Cromarty Firth condemned the action as “extremely dangerous and irresponsible”.
It added: “The rigs in the Cromarty Firth are owned and in storage here, not abandoned. We are working closely with the police and rig owners to explore what further measures can be taken to prevent this type of activity.”
Energy Voice has reached out to the YouTuber for comment.
‘Doesn’t have the beginnings of a clue’
This is not the first time that the laid-up Ocean Princess has been targeted by thrill-seekers. A 20-minute documentary was posted online in 2017 of “urban explorers” on board the vessel, bringing police attention.
Jake Molloy of the RMT Union said: “I wouldn’t condone anybody, even those with knowledge of drilling rigs, going on to these things when they’ve been lying there degrading for that amount of time.
“But here’s a guy who just doesn’t have the beginnings of a clue of the environment he’s getting into.
“He starts wandering around all these areas that are degraded to the point where there could be asbestos in some of those areas, there could be degraded stairs, gratings, walkways.
“Even the scaffolding he climbed up. He gets to the top and he thinks he’s won a star because the inspection sheet hasn’t been signed. That should be telling you that you don’t want to be going anywhere on board this thing.
“If it all goes wrong, if he goes through a deck, even if he just goes through the grating, the likelihood is that he’s going to do significant damage to his leg. He’s not going back down those stairs.
“It’s then you and I as taxpayers that are going to have to pay to get the coastguard to go and get him rescued.”
Ocean Princess is one of three rigs in the Cromarty Firth which the Scottish Environmental Protection Agency (SEPA) blocked from exiting in 2018 over concerns they would be sent to a scrapping beach in Bangladesh.
Originally owned by Diamond Offshore, the company sold the vessel to US-based GMS in 2017.
GMS, who acquired five rigs from Diamond according to a documentary broadcast by the BBC in 2020, has subsequently said it does not own the vessel in the Cromarty Firth.
Mr Molloy added: “If ever there was an illustration of a need to get things working in terms of recycling provision in Scotland, this is an example of it.
“We should be pulling all of those old units into a yard, getting them deconstructed and recycled as early as possible.”