Norway-based shipowner Altera Infrastructure has been fined NOK 8m ($747,000) for illegally exporting two vessels for scrapping in India.

The decision by Okokrim, Norway’s National Authority for Investigation and Prosecution of Economic & Environmental Crime, comes four years after a raid on the company’s office.

At that point, it was known that the probe involved the 124,200-dwt shuttle tanker Navion Britannia (built 1998) — then flagged in Panama — which was sent for demolition at RL Kalthia Ship Breaking in Alang in 2018, when Altera was known as Teekay Offshore.

The second ship was not named in the Okokrim statement, which said a Stavanger-based management company had been fined.

Okokrim said the vessels left Norwegian waters in March and July 2018 before they reached 20 years of age.

“Okokrim takes a serious view that Norwegian-operated, decommissioned ships, and the waste and environmental challenges that come with these ships, are exported to developing countries with far weaker legislation than Norway for this, and where the existing regulations are not followed to the same extent either,” added Okokrim police attorney Maria Bache Dahl.

Altera, which has two weeks to appeal, is talking to advisers about whether to challenge the fine in court.

“We are very surprised. And we completely disagree,” the company told TradeWinds’ sister newspaper DN.

Bache Dahl said the legal question in the case was not about what happened after the ships arrived in India but about whether the vessels were sent as waste from Norway.

She told DN: “We understand that they disagree that they have broken the rules and that they have done so in the belief that it was legal.

No permission

“But it is illegal to export ships that are waste unless you have permission from the Norwegian Environment Agency. But the Norwegian Environment Agency does not give permission to ships going to India, Pakistan or Bangladesh.”

Altera communications manager Steffen Rogne told DN the vessels were not waste when they left the North Sea.

“They were to get a new life. We had many potential projects on them, they were to be rebuilt. Then the commercial [outlook] changed. We spent a year from the time it left the North Sea to clarify the current possibilities,” he said.

Bache Dahl explained that the case had taken so long due to the large amounts of data seized.

Okokrim was also waiting more than a year for Irish authorities to hand over information.

TradeWinds reported in 2020 that Okokrim conducted searches and interrogated witnesses at Teekay Shipping Norway’s office in Stavanger.