Oil spill preparedness particular important in Arctic oil plans

Oil booms (Photo NOFO)

Before oil drilling starts in the Arctic, the oil industry plans to be as prepared as possible in case of oil spills and other accidents in the vulnerable areas.

Amongst the measures that will be taken before startup at the Goliat oil field outside the coast of Finnmark are education of local fishermen in oil spill protection and decentralized depots of booms and other equipment.

Norwegian oil industry is in the process of hiring, training and equipping 30-40 larger fishing vessels as part of the oil protection measures to be put into service on the coast of Finnmark County ahead of the Goliat oil field development, newspaper Aftenposten writes.

An improved type of service vessel will be built for Arctic conditions, equipped to withstand icing, large waves and drifting ice. It will be equipped with a new type of radar able to detect oil spills even in darkness and bad weather.

Read also: Norway educates Arctic sailors

- Drilling in Arctic conditions is out of the ordinary, says Managing Director of the Norwegian Offshore Clean Seas Association for Operating Companies (NOFO) Sjur W. Knudsen to Aftenposten. – The activity will increase in these areas and therefore we need enhanced preparedness in the North, he adds.

Read also: Oil spill more harmful to northern ecosystems

The extra emergency preparedness solutions connected to the Goliat development will need some 100 million NOK in investments and annual operating expences of 20-30 million NOK.

The energy company ENI plans to start production at the Goliat oil field in 2013. The field is located 85 kilometres north west of Hammerfest and is the first well to be drilled in the Norwegian sector of the Barents Sea. Drilling will probably start in the summer of 2011.

The Goliat field was discovered in 2000 when the first exploration well was drilled. Reserves are estimated to approximately 180 million barrels of oil equivalents of oil and gas. The total Goliat investments are estimated to approximately 28 billion NOK.