Monitoring Snøhvit environment

March 7, 2006, 09:05 CET

A programme to monitor the environment around the Snøhvit development in Finnmark county has been established by Statoil.

"This programme will give us the best environmental monitoring of any facility in Norway today," says environmental engineer Vegard Lyngmo in the Snøhvit plant's operations organisation.

It is a follow-up of the impact assessment which was performed for Snøhvit in 2001. Surveys are now being carried out to chart environmental factors. By comparing these with future measurements, Statoil will be able to document any impact on the environment.

"It's important for us to look at the consequences of our operations, and we want to be able to document that we can operate in the north without harming the environment," says Jorunn Klovning, head of health, safety and the environment (HSE) in the Tromsø Patch business cluster.

The surveys cover marine life at sea and in the coastal area around the gas liquefaction plant at Melkøya off Hammerfest. Airborne and freshwater pollution levels in the Hammerfest area are also being measured.

The Snøhvit project and operations organisations began planning the programme in detail in the spring of 2005.

The Norwegian Institute for Air Research (NILU) will take readings of the air, while Akvaplan-niva will look at the coastal areas. The Norwegian Institute for Water Research (NIVA) will analyse freshwater, while the Norwegian Institute for Nature Research (NINA) will study the soil. The contract for readings in the marine environment has not yet been awarded.

Environmental monitoring of the air will be performed continuously for the first three years after Snøhvit comes on stream in 2007. The other ecosystems will be monitored in 2006 and 2008, and then every third year as long as the plant is operational – an anticipated 25-30 years.

Noise and light measurements in the area around Melkøya will also be part of the environmental monitoring programme. These will be conducted by Statoil.

Statoil is operator for the development and operation of the Snøhvit, Askeladd and Albatross gas fields outside Hammerfest. The gas will be landed at Melkøya, where it will be processed and converted to liquefied natural gas (LNG).