NEW DELHI — An Indian company that dismantles old ships has bought the notorious Exxon Valdez, the tanker involved in one of the worst oil spills in U.S. history, a company official said today.
Though Gaurav Mehta, an official at Best Oasis Ltd., declined to say what the company had planned for the Exxon Valdez, it seemed likely the infamous tanker was headed for the scrapyard.
Mehta said his company had recently bought the tanker, which has undergone five name changes since the 1989 oil spill and is now known as the “Oriental Nicety.”
Hong Kong-based Best Oasis is a wholly owned subsidiary of Indian ship breaking firm Priya Blue Industries, based in the western state of Gujarat.
“I can confirm that Best Oasis has bought the tanker, but can give no details till we take delivery of it,” Mehta said.
On March 24, 1989, millions of gallons of crude oil spewed into Alaska's ecologically sensitive Prince William Sound when the Exxon Valdez dashed against rocks, coating the shoreline with petroleum sludge and killing nearly 40,000 birds. The spill caused incalculable environmental damage and demolished the fishing industry in the area.
Texas-based Exxon Mobil Corp., spent $900 million in restitution in a 1991 settlement and is battling more litigation from the spill.
The tanker, though, moved on, with its name and its ownership changing repeatedly in an apparent effort to keep the ship in use while distancing itself from the environmental tragedy that bears its name.
The Exxon Valdez was known at various times as the Exxon Mediterranean, SeaRiver Mediterranean, Dong Fang Ocean and, finally, the Oriental Nicety.
In 2007, it was converted into an ore carrier. Three years later, it was involved in a collision in the South China Sea.
Mehta refused to reveal the price Best Oasis paid for the tanker.
“I can't reveal any further information,” he said.
Best Oasis was set up in Hong Kong in 2010 for the “sole purpose of cash buying of vessels for recycling at Alang, India, Pakistan, Bangladesh and China,” the company website said.
India has one of the world's largest industries for breaking down old ships and oil tankers located in the coastal town of Alang, along the Gulf of Cambay in Gujarat.
Source: Richmond Times Dispatch. 23 March 2012