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Statoil’s Arctic oil-terminal neighbors unique bird cliffs

Gjesværstappan contain one of the large colonies of seabirds in Northern Norway. Photo: Thomas Nilsen

Eco-groups in Norway fear oil-tankers will run aground and destroy Gjesværstappan, one of Northern Norway’s largest bird rocks that are located a few kilometers from Statoil’s new oil-terminal at North Cape.

Location

“Increased tanker traffic to the shoreline increases the risk of accidents,” says Lars Haltbrekken, head of Naturvernforbundet, Norway’s branch of Friends of the Earth.

Interviewed by Nordlys, Haltbrekken argues that the oil in Statoil’s Skrugard field in the Barents Sea should be left where it is without being exploited.  

“Supporters of oil-exploration in the north say tanker transport is a bigger problem that drilling itself, but this case shows that oil drilling lead to increased shipping, says Lars Haltbrekken.

It was Tuesday Norway’s oil major Statoil unveiled its development concept for the Skrugard and Havis discoveries in the Barents Sea that will involve a floating production unit with a pipeline to an onshore processing terminal. The terminal will be built at Veidnes near world-famous tourist destination North Cape. 

The 280-kilometer pipeline will pass just east of Gjesværstappan, one of the most spectacular bird cliffs on the coast of Finnmark. Birds that are nesting on the cliffs includes kittiwakes, cormorants, shags, guillemots, puffins and white-tailed eagles. 

The Bellona Foundation says Statoil completely ignores the fragile bird colonies when constructing an oil terminal in this area.

“These bird cliffs are core area for kittiwakes, guillemots and puffins. An oil accident here could lead to disastrous consequences for the bird populations,” says Frederic Hauge with the Bellona environmental group to BarentsObserver.

“We can’t see that the current emergency response plans are good enough to handle possible oil accidents. This is an area extremely exposed to harsh Arctic climate,” says Frederic Hauge. He hopes the Ministry of Environment will stop Statoil’s oil-terminal plan.

Gjesværstappan consists of three small islands that rise from 92 meters to 283 meters above sea level. The cliffs have been designated nature reserve since 1983.

Production start-up for the Skrugard and Havis oil fields is targeted in 2018 and output projected at around 200,000 barrels of oil equivalent per day, Statoil informs.