UK oil major BP has found itself at the centre of a scrapping row related to a floating production storage and offloading (FSPO) vessel off Scotland.

Confidential documents seen by the Guardian show the company sought approval to drop 14 pipes, plus mooring lines and anchors, from Teekay’s 43,300-gt Petrojarl Foinaven (built 1998), in a legally protected marine wildlife zone 120 miles west of Shetland.

The report said the operation began earlier this month after BP was given clearance by the UK’s decommissioning regulator.

The area is protected under international law because of its rare giant deep sea sponges and ocean quahog, a slow-growing mollusc.

BP has been drilling there using the FPSO for 25 years.

TradeWinds had earlier reported the unit will be scrapped this summer.

The total amount of waste to be dropped totals 4,180 tonnes.

The riser cables are around 820 metres long and the umbilical cables up to 4.2km in length.

BP has said dropping them will have very little impact on the sea bed.

The oil company said it was legally obliged to recover all the pipes and cables, and denied the uncontrolled release was intended to save money.

Recycling planned

“Our plans to recover and dispose of the Foinaven risers and our commitments to minimise impact on the environment as part of our decommissioning process remain unchanged,” BP said.

“Solely due to safety considerations, our proposed method of disconnecting the risers has changed, but our plans to recover and dispose of the risers have not. However, it will still be done in a controlled and sequenced manner,” the company added.

A spokesperson for the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy said BP is still expected to recover the equipment and then recycle it.

Teekay has also sold the 27,600-gt FPSO Sevan Hummingbird (built 2007) as it moves closer to an exit from the FPSO sector.