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Shell Asks to Store Controversial Oil Platform in Norway

June 29, 1995

OSLO, Norway (AP) _ Shell U.K. Ltd. has applied for permission to store its unwanted Brent Spar oil rig in a Norwegian fjord while it decides what to do with it, an official announced Wednesday.

Norway has already said it was willing to accept the rig. Minister of Industry and Energy Jens Stoltenberg said the application review process would take about a week.

``The Norwegian government wants to contribute to Shell UK finding a solution for the disposal of Brent Spar,″ he said.

British coastal waters are not deep enough to accommodate the 450-foot tall platform, currently undergoing minor repair work in the North Sea 100 miles northeast of the Shetland Islands.

Shell last week abandoned plans to sink the old platform in the Atlantic Ocean north of Scotland following protests by Greenpeace activists and consumer boycotts in Europe.

Opponents of the dumping feared that toxic materials aboard the platform would pollute the water.

Shell U.K., a division of Royal Dutch Shell, applied for a 12-month permit to anchor the Brent Spar at Erfjord, about 30 miles north of Stavanger, the center of Norway’s oil industry. There it would be in sheltered water while Shell decides where and how to dispose of it on land. Shell said it would take 10 to 12 days to tow it to Erfjord.

Shell has estimated it will cost up to $80 million to scrap the 65,000-ton platform on land, compared to $16 million to sink it.

British companies want to bid for the contract, but the British government _ embarrassed over Shell’s about-face after Prime Minister John Major publicly defended the dumping _ has hinted it may refuse Shell a license to have the work done on British soil.

Norwegian companies have also been putting together proposals in hopes of winning the contract.

Norway, which is Western Europe’s largest oil exporter, also faces upcoming problems in getting rid of its own North Sea platforms when they are no longer needed. It may attempt to dump the concrete base of one platform in the sea next year.

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