Oil in icy waters
„Spill response for the future“ – that’s the title of a conference that has brought me to Trondheim in northern Norway.
There\’s still a pile of snow on the runway – but it\’s hardly recognizable as such as the winter gradually fades even up here.
At the Arctic Frontiers meeting in January, several people said to me in interviews it was just a matter of when and not a matter of if we would see another oil accident of one sort or other in northern waters. Just shortly afterwards, an Icelandic ship ran aground at the mouth of the Oslo Fjord, spilling fuel into the Ytre Hvaler marine park, Norway’s only natural marine reserve.
Weather conditions, ice and the cold temperature of the water make oil accidents harder to deal with up here. As climate change is opening up Arctic areas to shipping, oil and gas exploration, the chances of an oil spill in remote and extreme conditions will rise. There are still clumps of oil in Prince William Sound in Alaska, where the Exxon Valdez ran aground in 1989.
SINTEF is a Scandinavian independent research organisation, with its headquarters here in Trondheim. Over the next couple of days, experts here will be discussing the challenges of extending oil and gas development northwards and presenting technologies to respond to oil spills. On Friday I’ll be paying a visit to the laboratories. I’ll keep you posted.
A year after the Deep Water Horizon catastrophe in the Gulf of Mexico, it will also be interesting to hear from experts involved in trying to clean up and limit the damage.
DateApril 6, 2011 | 5:57 pm