“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.