There should not be issued any licenses in the southeastern part of the Norwegian Barents Sea before the preparedness systems for the area are sufficiently developed, the agency says in a press release.
The Norwegian Ministry of Petroleum and Energy is currently holding a hearing on drilling in the waters, which until the summer of 2011 were part of the Norwegian-Russian disputed zone.
“This area is located far north and has a tough climate with dangerous icing on installations and equipment”, the agency says in its input to the hearing. “Drifting ice and sudden weather changes, as well as little infrastructure, can make cleanup operations of acute spills difficult and partly impossible”, agency leader Ellen Hambro says. A spill in the area would most likely drift into Russian waters, but are unlikely to reach coastal areas, data from the agency indicate.
The environmental watchdog also argues that this part of the Barents Sea is of major importance for regional fish stocks and that the polar ice brim some years stretches into the area, thus making it available for polar bear, seal and walrus.
The agency also criticizes the Ministry of Petroleum and Energy for an “unnecessarily quick” assessment process. More time should be set aside for studies of the area and the results of seismic studies should be made available before the consequence study, the authority underlines.
MURMANSK: Ecological groups gathered on Kola Peninsula fear that Barents nature will be the looser after Oslo decided to call off the environmental minister’s Moscow meeting in response to Russia’s annexation of Crimea.
TROMSØ: Since the first five specimens of snow crab were found in the Barents Sea in 1996, the population has exploded. There is now ten times as much snow crab than king crab in the area, and scientists are just starting to find out how this new species has adopted to life in the Barents Sea.
The current situation in Ukraine makes cross-border cooperation with the neighboring countries even more important, Barents Secretariat leader Rune Rafaelsen says. At the same time, Norway has joined NATO’s condemnation of Russia’s military escalation on the Crimea peninsula.
Board member Amund Trellevik in the press network fears entry-denial of Kremlin’s controversial propaganda-journalist Dmitry Kiselyov could be retaliated by refusing Norwegian journalists access to Russia.