An oil rig which was blocked from leaving the Cromarty Firth in 2018 has been sold to a Turkish recycling firm for scrapping
The Ocean Vanguard, now simply known as “Van”, has been sold to Turkey’s Rota Shipping and is now leaving the Firth after around eight years in the region.
The company confirmed to Energy Voice that it purchased the rig in July and that it is headed to Aliaga – an EU-approved shipbreaking site on the coast of the Aegean Sea – for recycling.
In 2018, the Scottish Environmental Protection Agency (SEPA) blocked the vessel, alongside the Ocean Nomad and Ocean Princess rigs, from leaving the Firth over concerns it could be headed to dangerous scrapping beaches in India or Bangladesh.
The Port of Cromarty Firth has confirmed that the vessel is now leaving the region with keen photographers in the region telling EV they’ll be “sorry” to see the landmark depart.
SEPA, who needs to grant permission for vessels to leave Scottish waters, confirmed the sale and said it was satisfied with company’s credentials.
A spokesperson said: “In 2018, SEPA became aware that three Scottish based waste vessels were to be moved to overseas destinations without the appropriate prior written consents from all relevant competent authorities. SEPA officers moved quickly to help prevent the movement of the waste vessels from Scottish waters.
“SEPA has now processed an application from Rig Partner Decom Limited for the export of one of the rigs, VAN (previously known as the Ocean Vanguard and Marvan and now owned by Rota Shipping Inc), and given the necessary consents for its movement to Aliaga Gemi Geri Donusum Limited Sirketi in Turkey. SEPA is content that the destination yard is EU-approved and has all the necessary consents in place.
“We are satisfied that the application meets the requirements of the waste shipment regulations (WSR) and as such the appropriate prior written consents from SEPA and the Turkish competent authority have been obtained prior to the movement of any of the waste vessels.”
Recently Rota Shipping also bought the WilHunter rig, formerly owned by Awilco Drilling, for scrapping on Aliaga.
Known by some as “blowtorch beach”, Aliaga is an EU-approved ship recycling site and the premier facility for such work in Turkey.
The site has been criticised in the past; activist group routinely criticised poor environmental and working practices throughout the noughties at Aliaga.
Improvements have been made more recently, however the NGO Shipbreaking Platform has highlighted continued issues including employment conditions and accident rates.
Earlier this year a wildcat strike took place across all of its shipyards over issues including improper personal protective equipment, blacklisting and wage anomalies.
The Ocean Vanguard, along with the Ocean Nomad and Ocean Princess, are all formerly owned by Diamond Offshore Drilling.
They were sold in 2018 to GMS, a US-based firm which describes itself as the world’s largest cash buyer of ships for recycling.
However SEPA blocked the three from leaving the Cromarty Firth amidst fears they would be headed to dangerous shipbreaking yards in South Asia.
GMS said in 2020 that it no longer owned the rigs, leaving questions on its future.
Rota Shipping deals in scrap tonnage and has been active since 1986, according to its website.
Idle oil rigs in the Cromarty Firth have been the subject of controversy in recent times; the Ocean Princess made headlines earlier this year when it was hit by urban explorers.