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Notification of order – collection of environmental data from Goliat

Eni Norge AS (Eni) has received a notification of order concerning the collection of environmental data from the Goliat field.

According to Eni's plan for development and operation (PDO) of Goliat, the company has no plans to carry out collection and real-time reporting of meteorological and oceanographic data during production drilling and the production period on Goliat.

The Goliat field is located in an area where there is not a good basis for forecasting weather and oceanographic conditions.

There is a need to improve the quality of the basic data used for weather forecasting in the area, cf. also Storting White Paper No. 12 (2005-2006), Item relating to environmental data.

Goliat is located in an area with unique meteorological phenomena. Most low pressure fronts come in over the Atlantic Ocean between Iceland and Scotland, but some low pressure fronts are created in the air in the interface between the ice-covered sea (with air temperatures perhaps as low as minus 30 degrees Celsius) and the warmer open sea (with temperatures around 0 degrees Celsius).

This creates winds that can be compared to cyclones in warmer climates. They are small in size and fast-moving – much faster than normal low pressure fronts in our part of the world.

Because of the poor observation network in the area and the unique properties of these storms, they are difficult to forecast. This creates challenges in relation to planning and executing operations.

The Petroleum Safety Authority Norway (PSA) asked the Norwegian Meteorological Institute (MI) whether a satisfactory basis of data exists for this area, and received the following response:

At present there are no regular meteorological and oceanographic measurements taken from the Goliat field on Tromsøflaket and nearby waters. These types of measurement in real-time would have a substantial positive impact on the quality of the weather forecasts for the area.

The Meteorological Institute is of the opinion that a regular observation service should be established from the Goliat field. The data obtained there would be of great value in monitoring climate developments in the area.

MI assumes that helicopter transport will take place to and from the platform. Therefore, provisions should be made for a METAR service* from the platform.

MI also recommends current measurements be taken for the Goliat area.

The Goliat field and the transport lane to the coast are greatly influenced by the coastal and tidal currents, and this has an impact on operations both on the facility and on the vessels. Knowledge about the ocean current climate based on measurements is limited, particularly for the surface current. Proximity to the coast combined with strong currents means that the time it takes for drifting substances and objects to reach the coast may be short. Real-time monitoring of currents should therefore be carried out as part of the environmental preparedness. Real-time data will be useful in ocean forecasts, e.g. on met.no, while the gradual accumulation of a time series for currents will provide a valuable contribution towards improving knowledge about maritime conditions in this region, which is a topic of general national interest.

Two types of measurement programs should be considered:

1) Current profile measurements of the entire water column – from surface to seabed at different depth intervals – are valuable for transport of water into the Barents Sea, but should be supplemented with simultaneous measurements of the sea temperature and salinity profile, in order to provide optimal information.

2) High-frequency coastal radar (HFR) can map the surface current field in real-time out to 100-150 km from the coast for 1-2 hour intervals and with a resolution of 4-8 km. An HFR installation on the coast near Goliat can cover the Goliat field, the coastal area and the land areas within.

Current data can be used to check numerical forecast models, thereby improving their accuracy.

An HFR system is our primary recommendation, preferably supplemented with profile measures at or near the Goliat field.

*METAR (Meteorological Aerodrome Report)
The code for, or the actual report on weather observations from an aerodrome. The aerodromes send the weather observation reports (metar) to the Meteorological Institute on a daily basis, ten minutes before each hour, and also 20 minutes past each hour, if applicable.

Therefore, the PSA is issuing a notification of order as follows:

Pursuant to Section 25 of the Framework Regulations relating to data on natural conditions, Eni Norge AS is ordered to implement collection and real-time reporting of meteorological and oceanographic data during production drilling and the production period on Goliat. This includes the METAR service. In addition, near real-time measurements shall be taken of the current using a high-frequency coastal radar or some other satisfactory method, together with the profile measurements, during the production period. The data shall be reported to the Meteorological Institute.

The objective of the order, as notified, is to improve the data basis for forecasting weather and oceanographic conditions at and around Goliat. It will also contribute, indirectly, to achieving a better foundation for understanding the climate in the area.

We have asked Eni to submit any comments it may have regarding the notification by 10 July 2009.