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Strengthening northern oil spill response

January 31, 2007, 10:30 CET

With a view to boosting inter-municipal oil spill response expertise, Statoil and Eni have signed a letter of intent to strengthen such emergency response in the Barents Sea area.

The companies, who are production and exploration operators in this area, are establishing a partnership based on the existing response model for the Norwegian continental shelf through the Norwegian Clean Seas Association for Operating Companies (Nofo).

"Proposals in Norwegian parliament White Paper number eight (2005/2006) call for a need for greater expertise on the implementation of oil spill response in far northern waters," says Tim Dodson, Statoil's senior vice president for exploration in Exploration & Production Norway (EPN).

"Together with Eni, we wish to bridge the knowledge gap. We will work for technology being tested and implemented as well as acquiring more knowledge of oil spill emergency response in coastal areas."

The three-year deal was unveiled during an expert group meeting about oil spill response held by the Harstad science park today, 31 January.

Some petroleum activity in the far north will take place near the coast. Both Statoil and Eni have access to plenty of oil spill response equipment for use in the coastal zone, but to succeed should disaster strike, local knowledge and good response management is decisive.

"Inter-municipal emergency response will play a key role in a near-coast response scenario," says Kari Stokke, Statoil adviser for oil spill response.

Nofo, in accordance with White Paper number 14 (2004/2005) and in partnership with the Norwegian Coastal Administration, has recently supported the development of a training course for oil spill emergency response at Norway's fire training school, near Harstad. Statoil and Eni will adapt this course for Finnmark county local authorities.

The first municipality out is Måsøy where the school, on behalf of Statoil, will run a course for west Finnmark inter-municipal body
for preparedness against acute pollution (IUA), as early as February. Statoil and Eni will follow up with similar courses for other IUAs in the far north.

"In partnership with Eni, we will arrange a supplier seminar for oil spill emergency response in the far north in April," says Ms Stokke.

"The aim is to stimulate industry and coordinate good proposals relating to improving response."

Statoil and Eni have also started research projects at The Foundation for Scientific and Industrial Research (Sintef) in Trondheim to increase knowledge of oil pollution in the northern Norwegian climate, as well as a development project for chemical-combating methods in coastal and shore areas.