Urges strengthened Barents oil spill response

Norway want to drill oil in the waters of important sea bird colonies like the guillemots that are nesting on the Bear Island and several other of the islands of the Svalbard archipelago. Photo: Thomas Nilsen

Norwegian Climate and Pollution Agency says many of the areas to be opened for oil drilling have not been studied properly.


Preparedness against acute pollution in the Barents Sea must be strengthened before commencing large scale oil and gas activities, the agency says in a comment to the Oil- and Energy Ministry’s latest licensing round for new blocks on the Norwegian Arctic continental shelf.

“There is insufficient knowledge about the benthic fauna for most of the proposed blocks. Basic surveys must therefore be done before the activity starts,” says Signe Nåmdal, head of the industrial department of the Agency.

Oil companies are also recommended by the Agency to take note of vulnerable bird populations in the Norwegian- and Barents Seas.

Three of the proposed areas in the Barents Sea are close to the important seabird colonies on the Bear Island. Norway has never before opened for oil drilling so far north.

“In our opinion, the preparedness must be strengthened and further developed before it can handle the large scale activity now suggested,” says Signe Nåmdal.

The Climate and Pollution Agency’s statement is sent to the Ministry of Environment.