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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WTO rules US tariffs on Spanish olives breach rules

A US decision to slap steep import duties on Spanish olives over claims they benefited from subsidies constituted a violation of international trade rules, the World Trade Organisation ruled Friday.

WTO rules US tariffs on Spanish olives breach rules
Farmers had just begun harvesting olives in southern Spain when former US President Donald Trump soured the mood with the tariffs' announcement. Photo: Jorge Guerrero/AFP

Former US president Donald Trump’s administration slapped extra tariffs on Spain’s iconic agricultural export in 2018, considering their olives were subsidised and being dumped on the US market at prices below their real value.

The combined rates of the anti-subsidy and anti-dumping duties go as high as 44 percent.

The European Commission, which handles trade policy for the 27 EU states, said the move was unacceptable and turned to the WTO, where a panel of experts was appointed to examine the case.

In Friday’s ruling, the WTO panel agreed with the EU’s argument that the anti-subsidy duties were illegal.

But it did not support its stance that the US anti-dumping duties violated international trade rules.

The panel said it “recommended that the United States bring its measures into conformity with its obligations”.

EU trade commissioner Valdis Dombrovskis hailed the ruling, pointing out that the US duties “severely hit Spanish olive producers.”

Demonstrators take part in a 2019 protest in Madrid, called by the olive sector
Demonstrators take part in a 2019 protest in Madrid called by the olive sector to denounce low prices of olive oil and the 25 percent tariff that Spanish olives and olive oil faced in the United States. (Photo by PIERRE-PHILIPPE MARCOU / AFP)

“We now expect the US to take the appropriate steps to implement the WTO ruling, so that exports of ripe olives from Spain to the US can resume under normal conditions,” he said.

The European Commission charges that Spain’s exports of ripe olives to the United States, which previously raked in €67 million ($75.6 million) annually, have shrunk by nearly 60 percent since the duties were imposed.

The office of the US Trade Representative in Washington did not immediately comment on the ruling.

According to WTO rules, the parties have 60 days to file for an appeal.

If the United States does file an appeal though, it would basically amount to a veto of the ruling.

That is because the WTO Appellate Body — also known as the supreme court of world trade — stopped functioning in late 2019 after Washington blocked the appointment of new judges.