Norway to Establish Search and Rescue Center for High North Region

The Norwegian government will allocate $179,978 (NOK 1 million) to establish a resource and competence center for search and rescue in the country's High North region.

Increased activity onshore and offshore in the High North has created the need for enhanced search and rescue measures at the local level, said Norway's Minister of Foreign Affairs Espen Barth Eide in a statement last week. As a result, strengthening search and rescue is therefore a central part of the government's High North strategy.

Funds will be allocated to Porsanger Municipality, which will draw up the plans for the center over the next two years. The center's purpose will be to foster cross-border cooperation between Norway, Russia and Finland for search and rescue efforts, which will allow for better access to vital equipment and resources when major accidents occur on sea and land.

The center will include a logistics center, a Barents Sea rescue team made up of firefighters from throughout the municipality and a center for Arctic rescue exercises. A branch center also will be established in Arkhangelsk.

"It is encouraging that Porsanger Municipality has entered into cooperation with existing centers for expertise in Bode, including the Joint Rescue Coordination Centre Northern Norway," said Eide. "The cooperation that has been initiated with our neighboring countries Sweden, Finland and Russia is crucial for cross-border knowledge sharing, and it will ensure that we have better access to the right resources in the event of major accidents."

The need for search and rescue operations capabilities in Norway's High North region will grow as oil and gas companies continue to explore for oil and gas in the Barents Sea. Earlier this month, the Norwegian Petroleum Directorate reported it had received applications from 36 companies in Norway's 22nd licensing round, with companies showing the greatest interest in Barents Sea licenses.

According to a 2008 report by the U.S. Geological Survey, the Barents Sea holds undiscovered, technically recoverable reserves that include approximately 11 billion barrels of crude oil, 380 trillion cubic feet of natural gas, and 2 billion barrels of natural gas liquids.


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