Greenland visit

November 19, 1999, 09:00 CET

A delegation from Greenland's home rule government will visit Statoil's Åsgard A production ship in the Norwegian Sea on 24 November.

Jonathan Motzfeldt, premier of the Greenland executive, and his party are due to arrive in Norway on 22 November to meet Norwegian prime minister Kjell Magne Bondevik.

The visitors will continue to Stavanger the following day as the guests of Statoil chief executive Olav Fjell, with a tour of the group's Forus head office before the helicopter trip to Åsgard A.

Both Statoil and the Greenland authorities are keen to forge closer links ahead of the start to exploration drilling in the Fylla area west of the island next summer.

As operator, Statoil has been preparing for this operation together with partners Phillips Petroleum, Dansk Olie og Naturgas and Greenland-Danish Nunaoil since they were awarded a licence for the 9,487-square kilometre area in December 1996.

Any possible discovery would have to be assessed to see if it provided a commercial basis for development. International environmental bodies have opposed the planned operations in a sensitive Arctic region.

One reason why the partners secured the Fylla licence was their strong environmental image, reports Knut Barland, vice president for the environment in Statoil.

These companies bring experience from other environmentally-sensitive areas with them to this job, he says.

"We won't be meeting challenges on Fylla which we're not qualified to tackle in a good way."

Mr Barland also emphasises that Statoil sets at least as high standards for operations off Greenland as it does on the Norwegian continental shelf.

Drilling will be pursued in roughly 1,200 metres of water with the West Navion drill ship. This vessel is fitted with dynamic positioning, which allows it to stay on location with the help of its propellers and side thrusters.

It can also move off site if faced with the threat of large icebergs.

West Navion also has the environmental advantage of being largely self-contained, reducing the need to transport supplies from land and waste in the other direction.