Seeking to curb VOCs

February 28, 2000, 13:00 CET

Plans to cut emissions of volatile organic compounds (VOCs) when loading crude on two North Sea fields are to be submitted soon by Statoil.

Covering Statfjord and Gullfaks, these proposals follow a warning from the Norwegian Pollution Control Authority (SFT) on 25 February that it will issue an order imposing VOC emission ceilings on these fields.

Managements for the Statfjord and Gullfaks licences are due to meet today, 28 February, to decide how these curbs can be met.

"We'll be looking at what the licences can do in the longer term," explains Geir Pettersen, senior vice president for operations in Exploration & Production Norway.

"One of the issues under consideration is how shuttle tankers used for offshore loading on these fields can be converted to accord with earlier proposals from Statoil."

He notes that the group has been working actively to identify methods for reducing VOC emissions since the early 1990s.

It heads a joint industry project embracing 18 oil companies, which has come up with two different technologies for recovering this hydrocarbon vapour.

Statoil has also made efforts to achieve a voluntary agreement on reducing VOC emissions between oil companies involved in Norway's offshore sector and the Ministry of the Environment.

Mr Pettersen sees considerable similarities between the SFT's schedule and the timetable in that proposed deal, which was rejected by a majority of the other companies last autumn.

The order from the state agency aims to follow up international agreements which commit Norway to reducing VOC emissions by 30 per cent compared with the 1989 level.

Similar ceilings will also be imposed on other Norwegian offshore fields which utilise offshore loading of oil.