Posts Tagged ‘barents observer’

Melt water washed oil into the White Sea in Russian Arctic.

May 21, 2011

Bellona, Barents Observer and RIA Novosti report on the early May 2011 oil spill now threatening the Kandalaksha National Park.
Hornfar.

Ecologists say too early to estimate impact of Barents Sea oil slick

(RIA Novosti 2011/05/12, original article here)

Ecologists have warned that it is too soon to judge what environmental impact an oil slick in the Barents Sea has had.

The oil spilled into the sea in the Kandalaksha Bay, off the northern Russian port city of Murmansk, after melt water carried oil from beneath the soil offshore on May 7.

Officials say the oil is up to 5 millimeters thick in places. An area of the sea covering 210,000 square meters is polluted, the latest satellite data indicates.

Scientists say it is too soon to gauge the full extent of the incident.

“It is still hard to assess the consequences of the oil slick for animals and birds of the Kandalaksha wildlife park,” Ivetta Tatarenkova, a scientist at the park, which is situated on the coast, told RIA Novosti on Wednesday.

“The spill may pose a threat to eider ducks,” she said.

“The invertebrates – mussels, small crustaceans and others – may also suffer at the hands of the spill,” she added.

Efforts are underway to clean up the slick.

MOSCOW, May 12 (RIA Novosti)

Oil spill threatens national park

Barents Observer 2011/05/18 Original article here

Oil spill on the shore near Kandalaksha on the White Sea Coast. Photo: Bellona Murmansk

An area of 200,000 square metres on the White Sea coast near Kandalaksha is polluted.

The oil spill that happened on May 7 has been traced back to Belomorskaya petrol bulk plant report the regional environmental group Bellona Murmansk. The storage tanks of the plant is located just outside the town of Kandalaksha south on the Kola Peninsula.

The oil spill now presents an immediate threat to the Kandalaksha Bay nature reserve located a kilometre and a half away, according to Bellona Murmansk.

The regional department of Rosprirodnadzor, Russia’s Environmental agency has stated investigation into the case and cleanup measures have been deployed.

Images from the coastal area clearly show how the shore is polluted with oil.

Text: Thomas Nilsen

Russia: White Sea oil spill of early May creeps up on Kandalaksha National Park

Bellona, 17/05/2011, original article here

Part of: Oil spills and accidents

MURMANSK – The May 7 oil spill in Kandalaksha Bay of the White Sea in Russia’s far northern Kola Peninsula now presents an immediate threat to a nearby nature reserve. Cleanup measures have been deployed, but the oil slick from a coastal petrol bulk plant is now approaching Kandalaksha National Park, only a kilometre and a half away, which is home to hundreds of protected wild species. Anna Kireeva, 17/05-2011 – Translated by Maria Kaminskaya

State environmental authorities in Russia’s Northwest Federal District say the polluted area totals around 200,000 square metres. An investigation has been started into the accident, the authorities say. Click here for a slide show on the progression of the spill.

The spill has been traced back to Belomorskaya (White Sea) petrol bulk plant, an enterprise based in the town of Kandalaksha, on the shore of the White Sea’s Kandalaksha Bay in Russia’s far northern Murmansk Region.However, Belomorskaya director Sergei Khmelyov says the circumstances at hand do not warrant for calling the incident an oil spill, much less attributing it to his company’s operations.

“Water emulsion with oil products mixed in has leaked out of the ground, from ground waters onto the surface, as a result of a [recent] flood,” Khmelyov told Bellona.Ru in an interview.

Khmelyov blames the culture of utter disregard for ecological safety that was prevalent during the Soviet times for what is now happening in Kandalaksha: Back in the Soviet Union, all oil spills from loading racks used to simply go into the ground and get absorbed by the soil and ground waters. The recent springtime flood has lifted this decades-old emulsion out of the ground with flood waters, according to Khmelyov.

“Since 1995, when Belomorskaya Oil Bulk Plant was created here, the loading racks have undergone complete renovation, and no leaks can possibly happen here from the equipment or the pipelines,” Khmelyov told Bellona.

Belomorskaya’s director said it is currently hard to determine precisely the area of pollution as there are also small local slicks only a millimetre or less thick.

However, Bellona has learnt from conversations with some of the company’s employees, who wished to remain unnamed, that oil leaks happen regularly at the enterprise – though they have never seen a spill as large as this most recent one.

“It is apparent that oil pollution in the area and part of the coastal line adjacent to the petrol storage depot is that of a chronic nature,” Nina Lesikhina, an expert with Bellona-Murmansk, said. “This may be due to an inefficient effluent water purification system at the plant, leaky storage tanks, or the accumulation of oil products in the soil over the many years, which then start seeping onto the surface, pushed by flood waters.”

Lesikhina said environmental authorities would yet have to establish the precise cause of this latest spill, but the responsibility for the accident would still lie solely and entirely with the owner of the storage depot.

“It is apparent that it was none other than neglect of the rules of environmental safety and lack of appreciation of ecological risks that has led to this pollution of the White Sea,” she added.

The spill is being investigated by the department for marine environmental safety supervision of the Russian Federal Service for the Oversight of Natural Resources (Rosprirodnadzor) in the Northwest Federal District, which includes Murmansk Region.

According to the department’s head, Nina Sukhanova, an inspection of the Kandalaksha Bay coastline revealed that a stretch of the basin between the first and fourth piers was polluted with oil products. The slick was two to five millimetres thick.

“It has been established from a detailed survey of the coastline and the basin of Kandalaksha Bay that 71,000 square metres of the basin of the bay has been polluted in the area around […] Belomorskaya Petrol Bulk Plant. The water in the port is polluted within an area of 128,000 square metres. The total area of water pollution comes to 199,000 square metres, and shoreline pollution totals another 400 square metres,” Sukhanova told the Russian news agency RIA Novosti.

Sukhanova said department specialists have attributed the oil spill to the spring flood, which caused oil products to seep out of the ground and spread from the territory of the storage depot across the adjacent area and into bay waters.

The experts drew up an inspection report, took soil and water samples, and determined the incident merited initiating an administrative violation case.

The ecological threat

Specialists are hard-pressed to assess at the moment the scope of resulting environmental damage, including to the nearby Kandalaksha National Park.

“Installing booms in the affected area is currently impeded by the ice conditions in the bay,” Sukhanova said.

Meanwhile, the spot where the oil products are leaking is just a kilometre and a half away from the territory of the Kandalaksha nature reserve.

“It is at this point difficult to estimate the consequences of the oil spill for the animals and birds of the Kandalaksha reserve,” said Ivetta Tatarenkova, an employee of the reserve’s. “The specialists will have yet to investigate the damage after this spill. There could be a threat to the eiders, which are not yet showing up on the shore.”

Kandalaksha is one of Russia’s oldest and northernmost nature reserves. Sprawling across 70,000 hectares, of which 70 percent accounts for part of the basins of the White and Barents Seas and includes over 370 islands, it is home to around 9,500 animal and bird species and was founded with the specific cause of protecting the invaluable eider population in the area.

According to Tatarenkova, these rare birds are currently staying in the water and, should the oil spill expand significantly across the bay waters, the birds will be at risk of smearing their wings with the oil. A slick has already been discovered by the Kandalaksha reserve’s specialists during an inspection of the area around one of the archipelago’s largest islands, Ryazhkov.

“The ice there is dirty, it’s black; the same can be observed near the island of Oleny. The invertebrates could come under harm, too – mussels, crayfish, and other families of the order,” Tatarenkova said.

Bellona-Murmansk specialists note that extensive oil pollution and generation of oil slicks on the surface of seawater prevents oxygen from entering the water, which impedes photosynthesis. The presence of oil and oil products in the water has thus a toxic effect on the animals and organisms inhabiting the sea.

Even insignificant amounts of pollutants can cause serious damage to the plant and animal life, environmentalists say. And in areas where low temperatures are prevalent throughout the year, the process of recovery from the stress of oil pollution is extremely slow for marine organisms and ecosystems.

Cleanup measures

Efforts are ongoing in the area to contain and clean up the spill; Belomorskaya petrol depot has deployed its coastal rescue brigade and the necessary equipment to handle the accident. More people and equipment have been engaged from the emergency rescue outfit called Navekoservice, a branch of Ecocentre group of companies, to assist in the efforts to prevent further expansion of the pollution.

According to Ecocentre head Alexander Glazov, what happened is an alarming sign indicating a broader syndrome that affects all petrol bulk plants on the Kola Peninsula: All of these enterprises are quite old and may well have accumulated spilled oil products in the ground and ground waters on their territory.

Specialists say the cleanup may take up to a month. Remediation measures will then have to be enacted to restore the soil and water in the polluted area. In order to rule out the risk of further pollution, a survey will then have to be conducted, followed by drilling a well to pump out the remaining oil. Save these measures, small and large slicks threatening local wildlife are bound to be observed in the bay each year that the spring season floods Kandalaksha with snowmelt waters after another snowy winter.

Bellona-Murmansk’s Lesikhina underscores the very high ecological risks of oil and gas operations in the Arctic territories, including dealing with the consequences, as the environmental danger is not just confined to the specific vulnerability of the Arctic climate to such impacts.

“Not only do the severe weather conditions precipitate the risk of accidents, but they also hamper timely and efficient emergency response to oil spills such as this,” she said.

Top quality Barents Sea oil

April 21, 2011
Barents Observer 2011-04-12 Original article here
The Polar Pioneer jackup rig (photo: Harald Pettersen / Statoil)The Polar Pioneer jackup rig (photo: Harald Pettersen / Statoil)

This oil is like champagne, Statoil’s Helge Lund says about the newly discovered Skrugard field in the Barents Sea.

Talking at the Energy Conference in Bergen today, Helge Lund underlined that the oil which his company has found in the Skrugard field in the Barents Sea is of the very best quality.

-The Skrugard oil is almost like champagne, he said in his presentation, newspaper Dagens Næringsliv reports. –It is light and nice, and makes us very optimistic, he added.

Read also: Finally large Barents oil discovery

The Statoil leader does not exclude that his company now has found a key approach to understanding the geology of the Barents Sea. Over the last years, a number of wells have been drilled in the area, but only a couple of fields of significance found. Statoil already operates the Snøhvit gas field, and ENI is preparing for production at its Goliat oil field.

In his conference presentation today, Helge Lund showed a map depicting the Snøhvit, the Goliat and the Skrugard fields. –This could actually be a new industrial horizon with three building blocks, he maintained.

The Norwegian Ministry of Petroleum and Energy now intends to offer a number of new licenses to blocks in the area of the Skrugard field. The finding of Skrugard has a significance which can not be exaggerated, State Secretary Per Rune Henriksen said at the conference, DN.no reports. In the course of spring this year, new licenses will be issued as part of the 21th Norwegian license round.

Norway now also intend to start geological mapping of the newly delineated waters further east in the Barents Sea. As previously reported by BarentsObserver, Norwegian authorities have on several occasions confirmed that seismic studies of the waters will start as soon as the delimitation deal has been ratified by both Norway and Russia. Russia completed the ratification process last week.

Read also: It’s a deal!

Text: Atle Staalesen

U.S. submarines on Arctic training

March 23, 2011

Barents Observer 2011-03-18 original article here

The US Navy attack submarine USS Annapolis during Ice Exercise 2009 (Photo: Wikipedia)The nuclear-powered submarines “USS New Hampshire” and “USS Connecticut” are currently conducting submarine operations in Arctic waters, the U.S. Navy informs.

The two submarines started the exercise ICEX-2011 on March 15, the U.S. Navy’s web site reads.

– It is critical that we continue to operate and train today’s submarines in the challenging Arctic environment, said Captain Rhett Jaehn, ice camp officer-in-tactical-command.  -ICEX-2011 is the latest in a series of Arctic exercises, which are key to ensuring our submarines are trained and ready to support U.S. interests in this region, he added.

Read also: US navy warned to prepare for Arctic struggle as climate changes

The overall exercise has been planned and will be coordinated by the Navy’s Arctic Submarine Laboratory in San Diego and a temporary tracking range will be built into the ice flow north of Prudhoe Bay, Alaska.

The camp consists of a small village, constructed and operated especially for ICEX, by the University of Washington’s Applied Physics Laboratory, and members of the U.S., Canadian, and British navies.

As BarentsObserver reported, the U.S. Navy and civilian scientists have established a program called SCICEX – short for Science Ice Exercise, which enables scientists to use Navy submarines to collect data from Arctic regions that are normally beyond scientists’ reach.

For the latest information on ICEX and life at the ice camp, visit the official blog of the United States Navy, at http://navylive.dodlive.mil/

Total want to drill Barents with Rosnef

February 20, 2011
Barents Observer 2011-02-16 – original article here
Total in the Barents SeaCooperates with Gazprom on Shtokman gas – wants cooperation with Rosneft on Barents oil.

French petroleum major Total is in talks with Russia’s oil major Rosneft on joint projects in the Barents Sea, General Director of Total in Russia Pierre Nergararyan told reports in Moscow on Wednesday.

Nergararyan told RIA Novosti that Total want partnership with Rosneft on both the continental shelf in the Barents- and Black Seas.

Total and Norway’s Statoil are partners with Gazprom in Shtokman Development AG, supposed to announce a decision on possible investments for the huge gas field in the Barents Sea next month.

Last October, the Russian Government granted Rosneft and Gazprom five new licenses to oil and gas fields in the Kara Sea and Barents Sea.

In December, BP and Rosneft said they had formed a strategic partnership for development of offshore oilfields in the Kara Sea, east of Novaya Zemlya in the Russian Arctic.

Text: Thomas Nilsen

 

More oil and ore along Northern Sea Route

February 13, 2011
The Northern Sea Route is what Norwegian Polar Explorer Roald Amundsen called “The Northeast Passage” and connects the Atlantic Ocean with the Pacific Ocean running from Norway to the northeast along the Russian coast. Anyone living here, including Norwegians are of course concerned about the possible environmental impact on this pristine territory if there were to be an oil spill and the risk of dumping of spill oil and other garbage.
The most worrying line below is certainly this one: “These operations will be conducted in late August or in September by tankers which are not specially designed for Arctic shipping.”, bearing in mind that the Arctic is still among the world’s most dangerous waters in spite of global warming and melting icecaps.
Jonas Qvale
Barents Observer 2011-02-11 Original article here
The ice-classed bulk carrier MV Nordic Barents was the first foreign flag vessel to sail the Northern Sea Route in transit with iron-ore consentrate from Kirkens to China.The ice-classed bulk carrier MV Nordic Barents was the first foreign flag vessel to sail the Northern Sea Route in transit with iron-ore consentrate from Kirkenes to China.
Photo: Nordic Bulk Carriers AS 

At least 150,000 tons of oil, 400,000 tons of gas condensate and 600,000 tons of iron ore are planned shipped along the Northern Sea Route in 2011.

The several successful shipping operations in 2010 are now making shipping companies look at the Northern Sea Route with increasing interest. According to Nord News, at least 150,000 tons of oil are planned shipped from Murmansk to China. In addition, there are plans for about 400,000 tons of gas condensate and 600,000 tons of iron ore to be sent along the same route.

The first shipment of gas condensate will be made already in May this year from the port of Vitino, Nord News reports. Most likely, Sovcomflot’s 70,000 ton ice-protected tankers “Kirill Lavrov” and “Vasilii Dinkov” will conduct the operations. Another two such operations are planned later in summer.

In addition, Sovcomflot will apply tankers with a capacity of up to 150,000 tons to several other operations. Novatek, which recently signed a cooperation agreement with Rosatomflot, plan to send at least 400,000 tons of gas condensate along the route. These operations will be conducted in late August or in September by tankers which are not specially designed for Arctic shipping.

Sovcomflot will also ship 150,000 tons of oil from the Belokamenka terminal tanker permanently located in the Kola Bay outside Murmansk City to China, Portnews.ru reports.

Read also: Preparing for next year’s Northern Sea Route season

In addition to the oil and gas condensate, also significant volumes of iron ore are planned shipped on the route. The Norwegian-based company Tschudi Arctic Shipping in 2010 shipped 40,000 tons of iron ore from Kirkenes, Norway, to China. In 2011, the same company plans to send up to 350,000 tons of ore along the NSR, Nord News reports.

Read also: Iron-ore to break ice towards China

And that is not all. Similar volumes of iron ore are planned sent from Murmansk along the east-bound route, Nord News informs.

As previously reported by BarentsObserver, the Russian icebreaker fleet had already by December 2010, got 15 orders for assistance in 2011.

Sovcomflot is positioning itself to become the leading shipping operator at the Northern Sea Route. Not only Russian companies seek Arctic partnerships with the shipping major. Recently the company signed a cooperation agreement also with a leading Chinese company.

Norwegian parliament ratifies Barents Sea agreement tuesday February 8. 2011

February 8, 2011

Today, the Barents Sea agreement between Norway and Russia will be ratified in Stortinget, the Norwegian Parliament. It was in October last year that the delimitation deal for the Barents Sea was signed by the Norwegian and Russian Foreign Ministers in Murmansk, after decades of disagreeing on this border.

Norwegian minister of foreign affairs Jonas Gahr Støre said this on the matter to his Facebook friends yesterday:

“Historical day in Stortinget tomorrow, as the delimitation agreement with Russia in The Barents Sea and the Polar Sea is being processed with unanimous recommendations from the Foreign affairs and Defense comittees.”

Hornorkesteret congratulates both countries with a piece of the arctic!

Russia was originally set to ratify the agreement at the same time as Norway, but the processing of the agreement is still not scheduled in the Russian State Duma.

Read more here, at Barents Observer.

Look at an interactive map of the agreement as of april 2010 here, at Dagbladet.

Jonas Qvale

Russians restarted coal mining at Svalbard

November 24, 2010
Barents Observer 2010-11-08

The settlment of Barentsburg (photo: Barentsphoto.com)

Original article here

The Russian company Trust Arktikugol has restarted coal mining at the archipelago of Svalbard after a two and a half year break.

The production halt came after a fire in the local mine in 2008. Sea water was pumped into the mine to extinguish the fire, which subsequently destroyed equipment and required a major overhaul of production.

Production restart was further complicated by low coal prices, NRK reports.

In 2009, Svalbard had a population of 2,753, of which 423 were Russian and Ukrainian, Wikipedia informs. In Barentsburg, mining is the only livelihood, while the neighboring Norwegian settlement of Longyearbyen in addition to mining also has a well-developed tourist industry and a significant presence of polar researchers.

Text: Atle Staalesen

Trutnev: Mexico Gulf catastrophe will affect shelf developers

June 7, 2010

Yury Trutnev (photo: trutnev.ru)

Barents Observer 2010-06-04

Russian Minister of Natural Resources Yuri Trutnev believes the spills in the Gulf of Mexico will slow down the development of new offshore fields. -The accident in the Gulf of Mexico will affect the intensity level of offshore field development and also influence the development strategies of the oil industry, Trutnev told RIA Novosti.

Read also: Spills in Mexico Gulf might curb Arctic oil

-All fields on the shelf will [from now on] be developed with a higher degree of care and caution, because everyone have seen from this case the high level of vulnerability of the marine environment and the big consequences, Trutnev said to the news agency.

Read also: Nenets governor fears Arctic oil spill

Original article here

Wilder weather in Northern Norway from climate change

May 16, 2010

(Barents Observer, 11 May 2010)
Northern Norway should start preparing for a warmer, wilder and wetter climate, researchers from the Norwegian Polar Institute say. A new report from the institute concludes that climate changes in the High North are proceeding quicker than previously anticipated and that they will be felt by “everybody in the region”. According to the report, which is part of the NorACIA project, temperatures at Svalbard will in the next 90 years increase 9 degrees, while the northern parts of the Norwegian mainland will see a 2–2,5 degree temperature increase. -Humans, animals and nature will feel the changes, and society planners should consider carefully where to build houses, Ellen Øseth, adviser at Polar Institute, told newspaper Aftenposten. -The only thing we are sure about is that the changes will be felt by everybody, she adds. The warmer water in the Arctic seas will attract new fish stocks to the region. While the cod over the next 100 years might have moved from Norwegian to Russian waters, the mackerel will increasingly like it in the region. Also industrial activities will seek towards the region as the ice contracts, the researchers say. The NorACIA report is based on findings from more than 100 Norwegian and international researchers. It is the last of five reports, which all are part of the Norwegian contribution in the Arctic Climate Impact Assessment (ACIA). The Norwegian Polar Institute has had the secretariat for the international project, which has been going on since 2005.

Barents Observer
Original article here