Discharge application for the Barents Sea submitted
Hydro has applied to the Norwegian Pollution Control Authority (SFT) for a discharge permit for exploration drilling in the Obelix prospect in the Barents Sea in the autumn. This will be the most environmentally-friendly exploration drilling every carried out on the Norwegian continental shelf.
Together with the application for a discharge permit, Hydro has also submitted an environmental risk analysis and an emergency preparedness plan for the drilling operation. The documents are now being circulated for public comment until 10 August.
"We have based the discharge permit application on the terms of the Lofoten Barents Sea study. This means that exploration drilling is planned to involve zero discharges apart from the drilling of the hole section for surface casing," says Nils Telnæs, head of Exploration in Hydro Oil & Energy.
The application covers the drilling of exploration well 7220/6-1, in the C area (PL225) of the Barents Sea. According to plan, drilling will start from the drilling rig "Eirik Raude" in November or December. The rig will then be assigned to Statoil for the drilling of two other exploration wells in the Barents Sea.
Environmentally friendly exploration drilling
The well is to be drilled with water-based drilling fluid, and cuttings will be transported to land. The only discharges will be in connection with the drilling of the hole section for surface casing, i.e. the upper 100 metres of the well.
"Considerable efforts have been made by Hydro and in the collaboration with the other players in the Barents Sea to achieve the target of zero discharges. This will be the most environmentally-friendly exploration drilling every carried out on the Norwegian continental shelf. The drilling operation will cause no damage to the marine environment.
"The discharges will mainly be of naturally occurring substances, such as salt and clay.
All drilling cuttings will be transported to land. The routines are significantly more strict than the normal procedure on the continental shelf. These are probably the most stringent environmental requirements for exploration drilling anywhere in the world.
"The only discharge will be in connection with the drilling of the hole section for surface casing, as specified in the Lofoten Barents Sea study. The discharges from drilling this section will not harm the environment, as these consist mainly of salt, clay and wood pulp, mixed with sea water," says Telnæs. "The only chemicals we will discharge that are classified as environmentally harmful are approximately two kilos of grease."
In addition thorough environmental risk and emergency preparedness analyses have been carried out for the whole of the drilling period.
"Eirik Raude", the drilling rig to be used for exploration in the Barents Sea, is one of the most modern and advanced rigs in the world. It has been constructed specially to operate in stormy seas. The rig has also been used in extreme weather conditions off the coast of Newfoundland, and has since been further upgraded before starting the exploration drilling for Hydro in the Obelix prospect.