Norwegian start-up aims to buy oil rig for offshore fish farm

A Norwegian start-up is planning to buy an offshore oil rig and use it to build a huge offshore salmon farm deep in the North or the Norwegian Sea.

Norwegian start-up aims to buy oil rig for offshore fish farm
The Polar Pioneer rig in Seattle back in 2015. Photo: Tim Exton/AFP
“The reason we want to use the semi-submersibles is that there are at least 500 lying around the North Sea territory, so of course you can buy the rig for a very low price,” Kåre Olav Krogenes, chief executive of Viewpoint, told The Local. 
The company wants to buy the Polar Pioneer rig, which was in 2015 the target of environmental protestors known as the 'kayaktivists', who tried to stop it docking in Seattle when it was being used to explore for oil offshore Alaska. 
The rig is currently at the Westcon yard in Ølensvåg, north of Stavanger. “The rig will go for scrap in August, so we need to buy it before then,” Krogenes said. 
Viewpoint believes its rig-based offshore farm design could produce as much as 15,000 tons of salmon far out to sea, meaning less risk of causing disease among or interbreeding with wild salmon. 
It is also considering using the rig at the same time as the base of a floating wind turbine, in a combination strategy. 
One of Viewpoint's designs would have a retractable salmon cages. Photo: Viewpoint
The Directorate of Fisheries has a previously identified a list of areas in Norwegian waters which it believes would be suitable for offshore farming: Vardø, Tromsøyflaket, Lopphavet, Fugløybanken, Trænabanken, Sklinnabanken, Haltenbanken south, Frøyabanken north, Frøyabanken south, Indrebakken and Norskerenna south.
But Viewpoint has so far struggled to get a permit. 
Krogenes said the company was ready to establish its farm off Scotland, Argentina or Chile, if Norway proved impossible. 
“We have a location here in Norway, but we are looking for another location if we do not get a license to do it here in Norway,” Krogenes said. 
He told Norwegian state broadcaster NRK that he could use 60 percent of the Polar Pioneer rig without having to make any alterations, with the helicopter decks, lifeboat stations, living quarters, anchorage systems and the hull all equally suited to the fish farm concept. 

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Norwegian firm warns high gas prices could impact food production

Soaring prices for natural gas, a key feedstock for producing chemical fertilisers, will weigh on food production and security, a major Norwegian manufacturer warned Wednesday.

Rising gas prices could make food more expensive, Norwegian firm Yara has said. Pictured is the fruit isle on supermarket shelves.
Rising gas prices could make food more expensive, Norwegian firm Yara has said. Pictured is the fruit isle on supermarket shelves.Photo by gemma on Unsplash

Norway-based Yara said that a near fifteenfold rise in European natural gas prices had forced it to reduce its production of ammonia, a key fertiliser component.

“European nitrogen production is essential to global food security, and we are therefore concerned about the impact current European natural gas prices will have, especially for the world’s poorest regions,” chief executive Svein Tore Holsether said in a statement.

As prices for fertilisers rise in the wake of those for natural gas, farmers will be tempted and perhaps forced to cut back on their use. As a consequence, production of food crops could drop.

Holsether pledged Yara will do its utmost to supply farmers and support global food production.

However, he said, “the current situation clearly demonstrates the need for more resilient food supply chains” and called on both government and industry to work together to secure the global food supply.

Rising prices helped Yara’s results overall in the third quarter, with headline sales rising by 46 percent to nearly $4.5 billion.

Operating earnings also improved, but adverse currency effects and writing down the value of a phosphate mining project pushed the firm into a net loss of $143 million.

It earned a net profit of $340 million in the third quarter. Yara shares were up 1.5 percent in afternoon trading, while the main OBX  index was up 1.4 percent.