Hundreds of oil rigs will be decommissioned over the coming years, at enormous cost to taxpayers. Why not use British workers and expertise to do it?
To witness the beginning or end of a great industry or a way of living isn’t unusual. Each generation has its list of comings and goings – great grandfathers who remember the advent of the motor car, grandmothers who recall the last factory hooter in Accrington, fathers and mothers who can say where and when they last used a typewriter or first saw a mobile phone. But for the same generation to know both – the end, say, of the car or the typewriter, as well as their beginning: this is exceptional.
North Sea oil is coming close to that distinction. Its life seems to be passing with remarkable speed. You don’t need to be impossibly old to remember the discovery of its first reserves in 1969 or its initial exploitation six years later, and while the very end is still some way off – perhaps as late as the 2050s, if the oil price goes high enough – its inevitability has recently become stark, and nowhere more so than at a recently built concrete quayside at the mouth of the Tees. This, I felt on Wednesday, looking around the quay and the adjacent hundred acres that waits to be filled by scrap, is where the ending begins.
Source: Guardian Climate Change