Barents environment link-up

August 31, 1998, 01:00 CEST

Environmental know-how about the Barents Sea is being pooled by six oil companies in Norway ahead of future drilling.

Called the Norwegian Barents Sea Exploration Collaboration, the group embraces Norsk Hydro, Agip, Mobil, Elf and Saga Petroleum as well as Statoil.

"We know a tremendous amount about the Barents Sea today, but the information is not always equally well structured," says Edd Magne Torbergsen. He is manager for health, the environment and safety at Statoil's north Norwegian exploration office in Harstad.

The group - popularly called the "Barents Sea comrades" - will soon be initiating its first project, a survey of the coastal bird population in the far northern county of Finnmark.

Other projects are also on the stocks in the effort to create a common environmental platform for Barents Sea exploration.

"This sea is large, so we plan to split it up into several regions and work on the basis that each has its particular environmental conditions," says Mr Torbergsen.

He adds that a major basic survey of the environment from sea bottom to surface is considered necessary by the partners. Three working parties have been established to cover the environment, information and logistics.

A similar environmental collaboration has been pursued in the Nordland III and IV areas of the Norwegian Sea, south-west of Norway's Lofoten islands.

Involving Statoil, Amoco and Hydro, this partnership is drawing up a common environmental risk and emergency response analysis for the area.