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Better basis for far northern activities

Technological and operational issues which must be overcome for Norwegian petroleum operations above the Arctic Circle have now been assembled in a single document.

The report on Technology and operational challenges for the high north has been commissioned by the Petroleum Safety Authority Norway (PSA).

“It means that we now have a factual basis for further follow-up of activities in the Arctic and the high north,”(1) explains Finn Carlsen, a director of supervision at the PSA.

“We’ve long seen at the PSA that discussions on operations in our northernmost and cold waters usually began with a debate on what’s known or not known about conditions and challenges there.

“We accordingly took the decision to bring together current knowledge held by the industry, the authorities and research institutes.”

Another goal has been to secure an overview of which projects in this area have been initiated or are planned by the industry, he says.

“The result is positive, with the report showing that much has been learnt on this subject in Norway, and that many relevant industry projects are planned or in progress.

“This overview gives us a good basis for our future planning, including regulatory development and expertise acquisition. It’ll also be interesting for every player looking to the high north.”

“This report once again clearly illustrates the diversity of Norway’s far northern regions,” notes Kjell Gunnar Dørum, who has represented the PSA in the project together with Mr Carlsen.

“The picture in these areas is complex, not least in relation to climatic variables. That’s not a new observation, but it underlines the need to take account of these differences when planning far northern activities.”

Technological and safety challenges related to petroleum operations in the high north have traditionally been presented as very special.

“The report helps to slay that myth,” Mr Dørum says. “From a safety perspective, activity in these areas largely involves well-known issues.”

The PSA has produced the report in collaboration with the University of Stavanger (UiS) and its International Research Institute of Stavanger (Iris).

“Expertise held by these institutions in this area was the reason they were asked to contribute to the project,” explains Mr Carlsen.

“Both the UiS and Iris have worked on the subject for a long time, and it was important to incorporate their knowledge in the report.”

Mr Carlsen makes special mention of the contribution from professor Ove Gudmestad at the UiS.

“He is an authority with leading-edge expertise on technological challenges in the high north. His insights and experience have made valuable contributions.”

Mr Carlsen also emphasises that the recommendations listed on page 28 in the report have been made for the consultants’ own account.

“We’ll now be reviewing and assessing these proposals, but it’ll be up to us to define which of them we choose to take on board and continue to work with.”

But one area needs no assessment, he emphasises. “One of our key challenges is to influence the industry to pay more attention to preventing pollution than to cleaning it up.

“Findings in the report, presented in the graph on page 11, show that this work must be intensified and the trend reversed. Prevention must also be the main focus in the high north.”

Further information from
Finn Carlsen
Email: Finn.Carlsen@ptil.no

[1]See page 8 in the report for a definition of the areas covered.