Norway Bets on Global Warming in Arctic Oil and Gas Drive

Posted by Michelle Howard
Tuesday, May 13, 2014
Photo courtesy of WWF

Norway wants to let oil and gas companies drill in Arctic seas that were frozen as recently as the 1980s even though some climate experts say it is too early to trust global warming to keep the ice away.



Russia is also showing new interest in the Arctic despite high costs in a region where governments are struggling to set safety rules after BP's 2010 blowout in the Gulf of Mexico, the worst offshore spill in U.S. history.



Many companies, including ConocoPhillips and Idemitsu, are applauding a plan by Norway to open the South East Barents Sea - about 1,800 kms (1,100 miles) from the North Pole - to exploration as climate change thaws the Arctic.



"For Norway to continue to be a long-term reliable supplier of oil and gas it is important to explore for, and develop" expected large resources in the Barents, deputy oil and energy minister Kåre Fostervold told Reuters.



Environmentalists and some scientists say the South East Barents, the first new area opened off Norway since 1994, is risky even though it has been ice free year-round for a decade.



The state-funded Norwegian Polar Institute is advising the Conservative-led government against opening some blocks, saying sea ice smothered parts of the area in winter as recently as the 1980s and could strike back despite climate change.



"In accordance with international standards we've chosen 30 years" as the benchmark to judge global warming trends, Jan-Gunnar Winther, head of the Institute, told Reuters.
 


Environmental groups including Greenpeace and the WWF say an oil spill near ice would be almost impossible to clean up and could damage fish stocks.



Norway, the world's number seven oil exporter which pumps about 1.5 million barrels per day, will make a final decision on which blocks to open later this year.
 


The chill between many European countries and Moscow over Ukraine may make Norway's gas attractive as an alternative to Russian supplies. Still, Fostervold said it would take until the mid-2020s at the earliest to develop any big fields.
 


Norway estimates the Barents Sea, a vast area where Statoil already runs the Snoehvit gas field, contains 3.8 billion barrels of oil and 1.06 trillion cubic metres of gas.


Northern Limit
Under rules set by Norway's parliament for the oil industry's northern limit, drilling will not be allowed in areas less than 50 kms (31 miles) from the edge of any sea ice.



Arctic sea ice shrank to the smallest on record in the summer of 2012, a trend linked by a U.N. panel of experts to greenhouse gas emissions from burning fossil fuels.



The Barents Sea, also kept warm by the tail of the Gulf Stream, is exceptionally accessible to be part of the Arctic. Winter ice grips seas off Greenland and north of Alaska, Canada and Russia and is discouraging interest in most nations.
 


"Apart from Russia, there is more caution about the Arctic," said Heather Conley of the U.S. Center for Strategic and International Studies, saying that high costs and the U.S. shale gas boom have also dimmed interest.



Russian President Vladimir Putin said last month that Russia should step up its presence in the Arctic.
 


Russia loaded its first crude tanker from the ice-resistant Prirazlomnaya platform in the Pechora Sea last month. Exxon Mobil is cooperating with Rosneft to drill in the Kara Sea north of Russia this year.



The Norwegian Arctic is an attractive testing ground for subsea equipment makers - installations on the surface require expensive technology to cope with Arctic cold.
 


"The water doesn't freeze at the seabed. The reservoir conditions have more of an impact than the above surface temperatures," said Knut Røsjorde, head of subsea operations in Norway for Aker Solutions.



Norway's northwards push to remote waters will strain a demand that oil firms must be able to start drilling a relief well, the standard way of ending a blowout, within 12 days.
 


Officials say the deadline can be met in Arctic areas if oil firms cooperate, for instance ensuring that two rigs drilling in nearby blocks will help out if one suffers a blowout.



Elsewhere, there are also uncertainties about the rules.



In Canada, for instance, Chevron and Exxon Mobil Corp's majority-owned Imperial Oil wrote this month to urge safety authorities to revise a demand for oil companies to be able to drill a relief well in the same season - before ice and winter darkness close in.



"A same season relief well is not feasible in the Arctic because of the short drilling season," Exxon spokesman Patrick McGinn said of areas where seas freeze. Well design, equipment and staff could give similar and sometimes better protection.
 


But Marilyn Heiman, Arctic director of the U.S.-based Pew Charitable Trusts, said a same season relief well should be part of all safety planning in the Arctic. That also means that any drilling needs to finish long before ice re-freezes.


(By Alister Doyle, Environment Correspondent, Editing by David Evans)

Maritime Reporter August 2014 Digital Edition
FREE Maritime Reporter Subscription
Latest Maritime News    rss feeds

Technology

Navy Unmanned Aircraft Sets the Bar

The Navy's X-47B unmanned aircraft has completed its final test aboard 'USS Theodore Roosevelt' (CVN 71) and has returned to its home base at Naval Air Station Patuxent River after eight days at sea
,

Nanotechnology & Big Data: New Review

A report commissioned by the Lloyd’s Register Foundation, reviewing the potential implications of nanotechnology on the safety and performance of engineering assets

Update on the Deep Discovery at BNG

Roxi, the Central Asian oil and gas company with a focus on Kazakhstan, has given an update about the market with news of the deep discovery at its flagship BNG asset.

Environmental

Panama Canal Generates VER Carbon Credits

The Panama Canal Authority (ACP) informs it has certified Verified Emission Reductions (VERs) or carbon credits, within the framework of the Sustainable Forest

Fortum Buys Stake in Wave Power Startup

Finland's top utility, state-controlled Fortum, on Monday said it has acquired a 14 percent stake in Finnish wave energy developer Wello. Wello has developed

Cavernous Swiss Power Plant Undermined by Renewable Energy

Deep in a Swiss mountain, workers have blasted out a cathedral-sized hole for a power plant that will help keep Europe's lights on, but the profit outlook for the 1.

Energy

Nanotechnology & Big Data: New Review

A report commissioned by the Lloyd’s Register Foundation, reviewing the potential implications of nanotechnology on the safety and performance of engineering assets

Bulk Equipment is Delivered to Syzran Refinery

A reactor and a cold high-pressure separator is delivered to the site of Rosneft subsidiary Syzran Refinery for the constructed diesel hydro-treater. The unit

Achinsk Refinery Resumes Operation on Tight Schedule

Achinsk Oil refinery, suspended after the incident of June 15, 2014 has recovered the processes of primary crude oil processing on a tight schedule, according to the plan of repair activities.

Fuels & Lubes

A Boost for UK Offshore Drilling? DW Monday Muses

Drilling activity offshore UK is now expected to increase over the next few years as government and industry reacts to the recommendations in Sir Ian Wood’s report

Iraqi Kurdistan Oil Shipments Reach 8.8m Barrels

Iraqi Kurdistan has shipped 8.8 million barrels of oil from the Turkish port of Ceyhan since May, Turkish Energy Minister Taner Yildiz said, as the autonomous region

Rosneft and AVTOVAZ Strengthen Strategic Cooperation

Rosneft President, Chairman of the Management Board Igor Sechin and AVTOVAZ President Bo Inge Andersson signed an Agreement of development of strategic cooperation,

News

USCG, National Park Service Rescue Sea Turtle

Members from the U.S. Coast Guard and National Park Service rescued a loggerhead sea turtle Sunday in Oregon Inlet. Watchstanders at Coast Guard Sector North Carolina

Bulk Equipment is Delivered to Syzran Refinery

A reactor and a cold high-pressure separator is delivered to the site of Rosneft subsidiary Syzran Refinery for the constructed diesel hydro-treater. The unit

Achinsk Refinery Resumes Operation on Tight Schedule

Achinsk Oil refinery, suspended after the incident of June 15, 2014 has recovered the processes of primary crude oil processing on a tight schedule, according to the plan of repair activities.

Maritime Safety

EU Warship Provides Seychelles CG Training

EU Naval Force Warship 'FGS Berlin' has conducted local maritime capacity building in the Seychelles informs EUCAP Nestor. Three Local Maritime Capacity Building

USCG, National Park Service Rescue Sea Turtle

Members from the U.S. Coast Guard and National Park Service rescued a loggerhead sea turtle Sunday in Oregon Inlet. Watchstanders at Coast Guard Sector North Carolina

Videotel Updates 'Fire Fighting at Sea' Training

Maritime e-Learning provider Videotel, part of KVH Industries, says that it has launched an updated five-part series 'Fire Fighting At Sea', with the support and

Arctic Operations

Too Eager to Drill for Arctic Oil - Greenpeace

Greenpeace's ship, the Esperanza, is still on station in the Arctic to expose renewed Norwegian efforts to drill for oil in this pristine environment. Last

Rosneft Restores Meteorological Observations System in Kara Sea

As part of a large-scale summer Arctic research expedition "Kara-Summer - 2014" a meteorological station was installed that meets the latest modern requirements for such equipment,

Warming Aids Arctic Economies, but Short of 'Cold Rush'

Climate change is aiding shipping, fisheries and tourism in the Arctic but the economic gains fall short of a "cold rush" for an icy region where temperatures are

Offshore Energy

A Boost for UK Offshore Drilling? DW Monday Muses

Drilling activity offshore UK is now expected to increase over the next few years as government and industry reacts to the recommendations in Sir Ian Wood’s report

Drydocks World to Participate in SMM 2014

Drydocks World, the leading provider of maritime and offshore services to the shipping, oil, gas, and energy sectors, will participate in the prestigious 26th edition of Shipbuilding,

SBM Offshore Completes Real Estate Divestment

SBM Offshore is pleased to announce that is has completed the sale and lease back of its Monaco real estate portfolio.  The last of the three buildings was sold

 
 
Maritime Careers / Shipboard Positions Maritime Contracts Maritime Standards Naval Architecture Navigation Pipelines Pod Propulsion Port Authority Ship Repair Ship Simulators
rss | archive | history | articles | privacy | terms and conditions | contributors | top maritime news | about us | copyright | maritime magazines
maritime security news | shipbuilding news | maritime industry | shipping news | maritime reporting | workboats news | ship design | maritime business

Time taken: 0.4163 sec (2 req/sec)