Statoil, Murmansk Team Up on Spill Readiness

A partnership has been established by Statoil with the authorities in Murmansk county to strengthen emergency response to oil spills off northwestern Russia.

"The Russians have major offshore developments in the offing," said Henrik Carlsen, Statoil's senior vice president for the Barents region, who was attending the opening of the Norwegian Coastal Administration's new traffic management station in Vardo.

"That makes demands on arrangements for cleaning up possible oil spills. We want to contribute our expertise so that we can jointly ensure a good environmental standard in the Barents Sea."

The Vardo facility's most important tasks are to monitor ship movements, warn of danger and to manage incidents which could develop into a threat to life, health or the environment.

Also present at the ceremony were representatives from the Murmansk authorities, with whom Statoil collaborates closely.

Both sides believe that modern oil collection equipment will strengthen emergency response in the Kola Fjord, which leads into the Russian port.

In cooperation with the Coastal Administration, Statoil is transferring equipment worth NOK 11 million to Murmansk during April and will help to train personnel to operate it.

Three skimmers previously held available for the Norwegian Clean Seas Association for Operating Companies (Nofo) will be upgraded by Framo in Bergen.

"A modernization of clean-up systems is underway on the Norwegian continental shelf," explained Carlsen. "Much of the existing equipment has never been used and is suited for deployment in the Kola Fjord."

Murmansk is used a transshipment port for loading crude oil into large tankers sailing to Europe and the US.

Statoil has also invested NOK 7 million in laboratory equipment for use by the Russians.

Creating a lab accords with measures for preventing acute oil pollution proposed in Norway's recent White Paper on a management plan for the Barents Sea and the waters off Lofoten.

"Spilt oil can be collected much more efficiently if its characteristic properties are known," said Carlsen.

"The aim is to take samples of all the crudes loaded for export in Murmansk. Results from these will be available to both Russian and Norwegian authorities."

Premises for the lab will be provided by the Murmansk authorities, together with the required oil samples.

Statoil will install the necessary equipment and provide training in cooperation with Norway's Sintef research foundation in Trondheim.

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