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Norwegian Regulators Fine Altera Infrastructure for Allegedly Illegal Ship Export

Norwegian Regulators Fine Altera Infrastructure for Allegedly Illegal Ship Export

Norwegian Regulators Fine Altera Infrastructure for Allegedly Illegal Ship Export

Four Years After Raid, Dispute Erupts Over Environmental Concerns

Norwegian authorities have imposed a $750,000 fine on shipping company Altera Infrastructure, formerly known as Teekay Offshore. The accusation? Illegally exporting two shuttle tankers to India for scrapping.

This action comes four years after a raid on Teekay’s offices in Stavanger, Norway. Altera disputes the allegations entirely, claiming they haven’t received proper justification from the Norwegian National Authority of Investigation and Prosecution of Economic and Environmental Crime (Økokrim).

The Vessels in Question

The two ships at the center of the dispute are shuttle tankers, designed to ferry oil from larger tankers to terminals in the North Sea. Økokrim argues that North Sea shuttle tankers typically have a maximum operational lifespan of 20 years. These vessels, built in 1998, were nearing that age when they were exported to India in 2018.

The Navion Britannia, weighing in at 124,000 deadweight tons (dwt), left Norway for India in March 2018. The Alexita Spirt, slightly larger at 127,000 dwt, followed suit four months later. Both ships were reportedly beached in India for dismantling.

Teekay’s Defense and Recycling Concerns

In the year following the exports, Teekay highlighted their commitment to responsible recycling. They emphasized that all four vessels recycled in India since 2017 were dismantled at facilities certified under the Hong Kong Convention. Teekay stated they conducted thorough audits to ensure these yards met their strict environmental, health, safety, and quality (HSEQ) standards.

Økokrim, however, takes a strong stance against beachside scrapping practices like those employed in Alang, India. They emphasize the environmental risks associated with the release of heavy metals and other hazardous materials during such operations. Norwegian law mandates companies to obtain approval before exporting vessels as waste.

Environmental Concerns and Legal Action

Maria Bache Dah, a police prosecutor with Økokrim, expressed their seriousness regarding the export of obsolete ships and associated environmental problems to developing countries with less stringent regulations. Økokrim claims they offered to brief the company on the investigation’s findings.

Altera, through a spokesperson, maintains they offered the vessels for continued service. They claim to have spent a year seeking further use for the ships and expected them to find “a new life.”

Steffen Rogen, spokesperson for Altera, strongly refutes the allegations. He insists the company believes “there is no factual basis” for Økokrim’s claims and demands an explanation for the accusations. Despite their current disagreement, Altera did cooperate with Økokrim’s initial raid in 2020.

Challenges in Ship Disposal and The Road Ahead

This dispute highlights the significant challenges shipowners face when disposing of aging vessels. Currently, only a handful of facilities are recognized for responsible ship recycling, and stricter regulations under the ratified Hong Kong Convention will further limit options. The majority of Asian shipyards are not currently approved for disposal by the European Union.

Altera emerged as a publicly traded infrastructure company in March 2020 after spinning off from Teekay. Norwegian regulations grant the company two weeks to decide whether to accept the fine.

This case underscores the ongoing tension between responsible ship disposal and economic considerations. As stricter regulations come into effect, finding sustainable solutions for end-of-life vessels will become increasingly crucial for the shipping industry.

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