Minimizing Environmental Impact of Oil Spills: Statoil’S R&D Position and Priorities
Statoil ASA has during the last decade carried out a specific research program, Arctic Technology, aimed at developing technologies for offshore areas with cold climate and ice. For the development and operations of any Arctic hydrocarbon field, both on the Norwegian Continental Shelf (Lofoten and Barents Sea) and internationally (e.g., Russian Barents Sea, North Caspian Sea, Sakhalin), safety and environmental sustainability are key aspects. Environmental risk assessment and management of oil spill contingency and response is for this reason is the focus of Statoil’s Arctic Technology project. Statoil has identified three main directions of research within this area: improve environmental risk assessment tools and underlying models, improve installations with respect to accidental probability, and improve oil spill response technologies for cold and ice-covered areas. For assessing the risk related to accidental discharges the Environmental Impact Factor Model for risk assessment of acute oil spills (EIF Acute) has recently been developed. The EIF Acute Model is based on the current practice of environmental risk assessment on the Norwegian sector (MIRA), with several improvements, especially regarding the tools applicability to serve as a management tool, where risk reducing efforts (both reducing probability and the consequence) could be taken into account. Statoil is also involved in several joint industry technology projects with the objective to improve tools and technologies for oil spill contingency and response in Arctic areas. Research has been focused on the following technologies: dispersant use in cold and arctic environment; expanding the window for in-situ burning; and, development of technologies for remote sensing and surveillance of oil in and under ice. Statoil regards our involvement in these activities as a way to meet environmental challenges and prepare the company for activities as an operator in the arctic environment. The activities will increase competence in management of acute discharges within cold and ice-covered areas and will lead to improved company standards and performance within the Health, Safety and Environment (HSE) areas. This development is also strongly related to the “zero harm mindset” as the overall foundation of the company’s HSE goals.