Photographer: Matthew Lloyd/Bloomberg
Photographer: Matthew Lloyd/Bloomberg

Where to Park Your Unloved Oil Rig

Drilling in the North Sea, the centre of U.K. oil production for the past four decades has slumped to a record low. The Cromarty Firth Port Authority - created in 1973 by an Act of Parliament to support the oil and gas industry - has been at the heart of the trade in good times and in the bad. Photographs by Matthew Lloyd/Bloomberg

Established over 40 years ago, the Cromarty Firth Port Authority (CFPA) quickly took advantage of the freshly discovered North Sea oil, playing host to docks for building and repairing oil platforms at Invergordon and Nigg. The Firth – located 12 miles north of Inverness in Scotland – is large enough to house parked rigs.

Only 63 percent of oil and gas rigs in the U.K. North Sea were being used as of Jan. 19 – with the crash in energy prices forcing drillers to abandon more costly projects.

The unused Transocean John Shaw oil platform is parked in the Port of Cromarty Firth.

The CFPA was created in 1973 by an Act of Parliament to support the oil and gas industry.

Cromarty Firth has been a port since the 18th Century, when it quickly became a crucial distribution point for the Scottish Highlands. The British Navy left in the 1980s, having been active in the Firth since the early 20th Century.

A nautical chart showing the Port of Cromarty Firth inside the port control tower. The Firth has the capacity to harbour up to 18 giant rigs.

The Ocean Princess oil platform, operated by Diamond Offshore Drilling, stands parked in the Firth.

Binoculars and radio equipment in the shipping control tower. The Scottish Environment Protection Agency has recently objected to plans that would facilitate nearly 10 million tonnes annually of crude to be transferred between tankers at the entrance of the Firth.

The West Phoenix drilling rig, pictured here third from left is reported to be the largest ever to be parked in the Firth.