Bilateral Russian-Norwegian co-operation on Environmental Impact Assessment
- S. Dahle (Akvaplan-niva) | L. Shagarova (State Committee on Environmental Protection of the Russian Federation) | G. Sander (Norwegian Polar Institute) | L-H. Larsen (Akvaplan-niva)
- Document ID
- Society of Petroleum Engineers
- SPE International Conference on Health, Safety and Environment in Oil and Gas Exploration and Production, 26-28 June, Stavanger, Norway
- Publication Date
- Document Type
- Conference Paper
- 2000. Society of Petroleum Engineers
- 1.6 Drilling Operations, 7.2.5 Emergency Preparedness and Training, 5.5.11 Formation Testing (e.g., Wireline, LWD), 6.5.1 Air Emissions, 4.6 Natural Gas, 6.6.2 Environmental and Social Impact Assessments, 4.6.2 Liquified Natural Gas (LNG), 6.5.5 Oil and Chemical Spills, 7.2.1 Risk, Uncertainty and Risk Assessment
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Major hydrocarbon reserves have been identified offshore in the Russian part of the Barents Sea, and hydrocarbons have also been discovered in the Norwegian sector. Sharing environmental responsibility of the Barents Sea, and with the ESPOO convention of transboundary pollution impacts in mind, a need for common understanding and addressing the environmental challenges connected to offshore petroleum development in this region became apparent. As part of the ongoing environmental co-operation between Russia and Norway, the Norwegian - Russian environmental commission in 1998 initiated a process aiming at exchange of experience and knowledge, and harmonisation of the two countries' guidelines and practise within Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) of offshore oil and gas activities.
During spring 1999 two expert seminars were carried out, one in Archangel and one in Murmansk. The seminars were attended by a broad spectre of representatives from several levels of Russian and Norwegian environmental administration, environmental specialists and representatives from oil companies. At both seminars the two countries' guidelines and regulating systems were thoroughly presented and evaluated. Working groups summed up strengths and weaknesses in the two systems, and four major themes were pointed out for further studies:
Comparison and evaluation of a specific Norwegian and a specific Russian EIA of an off-shore oil or gas development project
Conduct a joint EIA of a model field development in the Barents Sea
Feasibility study for a joint Russian - Norwegian regional EIA for the Barents Sea
Develop a regional Norwegian - Russian oil spill contingency plan
The gradually increasing demand for hydrocarbon based energy leads to still new areas being explored, and still new discoveries of oil and gas are made. This is also the case in the Barents Sea (Fig. 1). Russia and Norway share responsibility for managing the sensitive environment and the marine bioresources of the Barents Sea. This responsibility also covers a disputed area (the "grey" zone) equal in size to the Norwegian sector of the North Sea. This common environmental responsibility calls for a not necessarily united, but at least comparable way of presenting, analysing and managing activities having potential to impact the ecosystem - such as oil exploration and extraction.
Increasing extent of exploitation of hydrocarbon resources increases the number of potential conflicts between oil and fishing, hunting, indigenous lifestyle and nature conservation (Figs. 2, 3 & 4). However, common understanding and co-operation will make it easier to solve ecological problems and to amend negative impacts, - and may in a longer context lay the basis for co-operation on exploitation of the hydrocarbon resources of e.g. the Barents Sea.
An important step in international co-operation on environmental protection was taken with the signing and bringing into action of the ESPOO convention on transboundary environmental impacts. This convention is signed both by Norway and Russia (at present, Russia has not ratified this convention). It specifies the right to participate in the EIA process of a project being carried out in a neighbouring country, if the project has a potential to cause significant environmental impact on the neighbouring countries territory. The present presentation does not deal with a particular project, but describes a step towards a better mutual understanding of the similarities and differences of two EIA systems, having evolved isolated from each other.
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