The second biggest oil spill in Norway occurred last week, reviving concerns of the possible expansion of oil and gas exploration in Norwegian waters.
The spill of around 25,000 barrels left an oil slick 5 kilometres wide and 10 kilometres long. Fortunately the accident was mostly contained by favourable winds.
The accident occurred as a tanker was loaded at energy group StatoilHydro’s Statfjord field.
StatoilHydro stated that rough conditions at sea detracted from the clean-up process, but that all solutions were being explored. The cause of the accident is under investigation.
StatoilHydro Chief Executive Helge Lund stated, “We are treating the Statfjord spill with the greatest concern. Our first priority is to do everything we can to minimize the environmental impact.”
The energy company said that weather conditions were likely to prevent the slick from reaching the Norwegian shores roughly 200 kilometres away. Nevertheless, environmental groups saw this as a sign that opening up new areas of Norwegian water to oil and gas exploration was a dangerous idea.
“This should be the final nail in the coffin of exploration in the north,” said Guro Haugen, the head of climate and energy at the environmental organisation Bellona.
Opening up sections of its Arctic waters for oil exploration could allow Norway to maintain a high level of oil output in the face of waning supplies in the North Sea fields. But environmentalists argue that the severe conditions in the Arctic would make clean-ups a much more difficult task.