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 Today


The Maritime Industry's original and most viewed E-News Service

Maritime Reporter July 2016 Digital Edition
FREE Maritime Reporter Subscription
Latest Maritime News    rss feeds

Technology

Can Bandwidth Supply Keep up with Maritime Demand?

In the next few years, demand for bandwidth on the high seas will grow, in no small part due to technology that is making operations more efficient and keeping crews and passengers healthy,

Drones: Is the Maritime Industry Ready?

Unmanned aerial systems (UAS), or “drones” in common parlance, are not a part of the historical maritime vocabulary. At least not yet. While the term “drones” may conjure images from science fiction,

Servowatch to Debut New Software at SMM

Integrated ship control systems supplier Servowatch said it will use SMM to launch its new automation and control software, WINMON 9.   WINMON 9 is a singular,

Environmental

KVH's Zika Virus Safety Video for Mariners

KVH Industries, Inc., (Nasdaq: KVHI), announced today that it is offering Videotel’s new safety and training video about the Zika virus free to all mariners worldwide.

LNG-fueled Bulker Ordered from Korea

Hyundai Mipo Dockyard (HMD) has signed a contract to build a 50,000 dwt bulk carrier with ILSHIN LOGISTICS. The project is a collaboration between POSCO and ILSHIN

Long Beach Awards Sovcomflot for Green Shipping

PAO Sovcomflot earned the Green Environmental Achievement Award from California's Port of Long Beach, recognizing the shipper for its ongoing commitment to environmental stewardship.

Fuels & Lubes

LNG-fueled Bulker Ordered from Korea

Hyundai Mipo Dockyard (HMD) has signed a contract to build a 50,000 dwt bulk carrier with ILSHIN LOGISTICS. The project is a collaboration between POSCO and ILSHIN

Gulf Petrochem Group Expands European Bunker Operations

Gulf Petrochem Group, the UAE based global bunker supplier, has announced that it is now officially offering physical bunker supply in the port of Rotterdam, out of its new office based in Dordrecht.

Fuel Consumption, Emissions Monitoring Software Updated

As part of the ongoing Blue Star Delos Renewable Energy Innovation Project, Eco Marine Power (EMP) stated that the Aquarius Management & Automation System (MAS)

News

Cambodia Urged ASEAN to Avoid Words That Escalate Tension

Cambodia advised a grouping of South East Asian nations to avoid using words that "would escalate tension between China and the Philippines" in a weekend statement,

Technip Bags Woodside's Subsea Contract

Technip has been awarded a large(1) subsea contract by Woodside to support the development of the Greater Enfield Project offshore Western Australia, at a water

Keel Laying for Russia's Second Nuclear Icebreaker

Today the Baltic Shipyard in St Petersburg (part of United Shipbuilding Corporation) laid the keel of Ural, Project 22220’s second series-produced nuclear icebreaker.

Maritime Safety

Drones: Is the Maritime Industry Ready?

Unmanned aerial systems (UAS), or “drones” in common parlance, are not a part of the historical maritime vocabulary. At least not yet. While the term “drones” may conjure images from science fiction,

Cambodia Urged ASEAN to Avoid Words That Escalate Tension

Cambodia advised a grouping of South East Asian nations to avoid using words that "would escalate tension between China and the Philippines" in a weekend statement,

KVH's Zika Virus Safety Video for Mariners

KVH Industries, Inc., (Nasdaq: KVHI), announced today that it is offering Videotel’s new safety and training video about the Zika virus free to all mariners worldwide.

Arctic Operations

Keel Laying for Russia's Second Nuclear Icebreaker

Today the Baltic Shipyard in St Petersburg (part of United Shipbuilding Corporation) laid the keel of Ural, Project 22220’s second series-produced nuclear icebreaker.

Canada Embarks on Arctic Survey Mission

Canada has launched its 2016 Arctic expedition to collect important scientific information to support the nation’s submission on the extended continental shelf in the Arctic Ocean.

Eni Cancels Vessel Deal with Viking Supply Ships

Viking Supply Ships A/S (VSS) has received an early termination notice of the contract for the Ice-class 1A AHTS “Njord Viking”. The vessel has been working for

Offshore Energy

Summer Cruise to North Sea Oil Rigs Amazes Tourists

Bored with palm-fringed beaches and turquoise seas? Then the gigantic oil platforms of the North Sea beckon. The first ever "rig-spotting" cruise just ended off the coast of Norway,

Technip Bags Woodside's Subsea Contract

Technip has been awarded a large(1) subsea contract by Woodside to support the development of the Greater Enfield Project offshore Western Australia, at a water

Staying Afloat Down Under?

In recent years, Australia has been a major growth area for offshore gas production and a key driver of offshore CAPEX, says Clarksons Research.   However, the

 
 
Maritime Standards Naval Architecture Offshore Oil Pipelines Pod Propulsion Port Authority Ship Electronics Ship Simulators Sonar Winch
rss | archive | history | articles | privacy | 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: 0.1516 sec (7 req/sec)