Barents Sea importance stressed

December 8, 2003, 07:00 CET

The Norwegian debate on new exploration and production activity in the Barents Sea is important, maintains Henrik Carlsen, executive vice president for Exploration & Production Norway in Statoil.

This applies both for the oil industry and for Norway, he says, and pledges that the group will be a prime mover in averting environmental harm from offshore operations in these waters.

With exploration activity and results declining off Norway in recent years, Mr Carlsen notes that the future for the industry, Statoil and the Norwegian continental shelf (NCS) lies in the far north.

“We need new exploration acreage to secure our operations on the NCS,” he says.

"We’ve shown great willingness and perseverance in seeking to renew exploration in these promising waters, where activity has been on ice for the past two years. Now we’re eager to get going.”

Statoil has devoted many years to exploring the Barents Sea, where about 60 wells have been drilled over the past two decades – with no accidents which might harm the environment.

The group also operates the Snøhvit development, which is being pursued in harmonious coexistence with the fishing industry and the local population in northern Norway.

Statoil is concerned to see that new technology and tougher environmental standards ensure zero discharges to the sea.

This goal is attainable, Mr Carlsen affirms, and says that the group will take the measures and devote the resources required to meet it.

The technology used on Snøhvit can be applied and further developed for the rest of the Barents Sea and areas close to the north Norwegian coast.

“Spin-offs and opportunities for local industry have confirmed the potential which many had hoped to find,” notes Mr Carlsen.

“National and regional companies have gained a major vitamin boost. Snøhvit and oil operations are encouraging optimism and faith in the future.”

An oil industry presence in northern Norway also provides major spin-offs for other marine-based sectors, he adds.

Infrastructure such as helicopters, ships and oil-spill response will enhance safety provision in the region, for instance.