Continued work towards zero discharges

November 21, 2003, 11:00 CET

The Institute of Marine Research has studied whether fish in the North Sea contain raised levels of pollutants as a result of discharges from the petroleum industry, and whether this pollution has biological effects. No traces of oil components have been found in fish, but alterations to DNA have been found that may be due to discharges.

Gunnar Breivik, senior vice president for Health, Safety and Environment in Hydro, takes the finding of altered DNA in wild fish in the North Sea very seriously.

“It is, however, positive that neither polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAH) or alkylated phenols have been found in fish,” he says.

Studies have found raised levels of what are known as DNA adducts in fish. DNA adducts are alterations to DNA that may be caused by exposure to polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAH). DNA adducts were found in fish from Egersundbanken, and from the Sleipner and Tampen areas, but levels were higher in the latter two.

“We know from previous exploration projects that PAH have potentially harmful effects on the environment, and we have therefore looked closely at what we discharge to find ways of reducing the risk of environmental damage from these substances,” says Breivik.

The oil companies have, for several years, put in a good deal of work into the assessment and testing of different improvement measures to reduce environmentally harmful discharges.

The target is zero discharges during the course of 2005.

Zero discharges of produced water is an absolute requirement for the whole industry in developments in the northern areas.

Environmental work gives results
“Hydro has, during the course of the last four years, reduced discharges of environmentally harmful production chemicals in connection with oil and gas production to a third of the original amounts.

“In connection with our work towards zero discharges, we have planned measures that will reduce the environmental risk from our installations by an estimated 80% by the end of 2005,” concludes senior vice president HSE, Gunnar Breivik.