Posts Tagged ‘barents sea’

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.

UPDATE 3-Big Statoil Arctic find revives Norway’s oil future (Reuters)

April 1, 2011

April 1st. 2011, Reuters, Original article here

* Skrugard holds 150-250 mln boe recoverable reserves

* Potential upside for total 500 mln boe

* Most significant off Norway in last decade

* Nearby prospect could also have big potential

* Statoil shares to three-and-a-half-year high

(Adds environmental concern, updates shares)

By Gwladys Fouche and Henrik Stoelen

OSLO, April 1 (Reuters) – Norway’s Statoil (STL.OL) has made a big oil find in the Arctic North, the firm said on Friday, breathing new life into Norway’s declining oil prospects and lifting the company’s shares to a 3.5-year high.

The company said the 150-250 million barrels of oil equivalent Skrugard discovery in the Barents Sea could potentially hold up to 500 million barrels and is the most significant off Norway in the last decade. It said a nearby prospect also looked promising. “This is fantastic, a breakthrough for us in this section of the Barents Sea,” Gro Gunleiksrud Haatvedt, Statoil’s head of exploration off Norway, told Reuters.

“This find will lead to a new boom in exploration in the area,” said Magnus Smistad, an analyst at Fondsfinans. “This is an exciting area and the potential could be even bigger.”

Statoil shares were up 2.2 percent to 156.7 crowns at 1612 GMT while shares in Italy’s Eni (ENI.MI), which has a 30 percent stake in the licence, were up 1.85 percent to 17.65 euros.

Norway is the world’s fifth-largest oil exporter and the second-largest for gas but its oil output has been declining since 2001 and oil discoveries have become ever smaller.

In January Norwegian authorities slashed their estimates for offshore undiscovered oil and gas resources by 21 percent to 16.4 billion barrels of oil equivalent, making the country less attractive to oil majors — until today. [ID:nLDE70B1MD]

“This discovery is the missing element needed to develop the Barents Sea into an oil province over the long-term,” Norwegian Minister of Petroleum and Energy Ola Borten Moe said in a statement.

Finding oil in the Barents Sea has been tough. More than 80 exploration wells have been drilled there since 1980 but only two discoveries have been made — Statoil’s Snoehvit gas field and Eni’s Goliat oilfield.

Discovered in 2000, Goliat was the biggest oil find made in the Norwegian Barents Sea until now, with an estimated 240 million barrels in oil equivalent.

The find could lead to renewed concern about the impact of oil activity in a remote part of the Arctic, following the BP (BP.L) oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico.

Before drilling on Skrugard began last year, the Norwegian Polar Institute expressed worries about the potential impact of oil leaks that could get trapped in the Arctic sea ice, which extends to within some 150 kilometres (93 miles) north of Skrugard.

Haatvedt said Statoil would drill another well at Skrugard next year, which is about two-third oil and one-third gas, as well as another well at a nearby prospect.

“The other prospect has big potential, with a strong upside,” the executive said, declining to offer more details. The third partner in the license is Norwegian state-owned firm Petoro, which holds a 20 percent stake.

“It takes between 5 to 10 years from making a discovery to production, so we are planning for the future now … “We want to start production as soon as possible,” Statoil said, adding that it saw possibilities for a stand-alone production installation for Skrugard.

(Editing by Richard Mably and Jason Neely)

Russia to ratify maritime border pact with Norway within month – Lavrov

March 23, 2011

07/03/2011 RIA Novosti original article here

Russian Foreign Minister, Sergei Lavrov

Russian lower house of parliament, the State Duma, will ratify a maritime border demarcation treaty with Norway within a month, Russian Foreign Minister, Sergei Lavrov said on Monday.

Last year Russia and Norway signed a deal to delimitate their maritime border in the Barents Sea and Arctic Ocean after 40 years of negotiations.

Both countries have been disputing the 175,000 square km area since 1970. The absence of defined maritime border often resulted in detentions of fishing vessels in the region.

The agreement has also paved the way for the lifting of a 30-year-long moratorium on oil and gas extraction in the previously disputed zone.

“We were discussing the vital issue for our states [maritime border demarcation pact]…Norway has ratified the pact. Russia has just started the ratification. We are planning to settle it within a month,” Lavrov told a meeting with his Norwegian counterpart, Jonas Gahr Store in Russia’s Baltic exclave of Kaliningrad.

Russia, however, is still in a dispute with Canada over the Lomonosov Ridge in the Arctic Ocean, with both countries trying to persuade a UN commission that it is an extension of its own continental shelf. The sides have agreed that scientific evidence should resolve the dispute.

KALININGRAD, March 7 (RIA Novosti)

Norway extends ban on Arctic shelf oil production until 2013

March 20, 2011

18:36 14/03/2011 original article here


Norway’s government has extended a 30-year moratorium on oil production on its Arctic shelf until 2013 under pressure from the World Wildlife Fund (WWF), the environmental organization said on Monday.

“The moratorium for Lofoten and Vesteralen [islands] in Norway’s northern arctic waters is part of an overall management plan for the Barents Sea that is aimed at protecting important areas for fish, sea birds, seals and whales,” the WWF said on its website, adding that the ban would last until 2013.

The moratorium is part of WWF-supported campaigns already under way in Alaska and Russia to protect fisheries and communities.

The wildlife protection campaigns are based on studies showing that oil returns in the long term would be less than returns from well-protected biological resources.

“It is complete madness to trade in a sustainable fishery that could continue to accommodate the interests of both people and nature for generations for a few years of quick and dirty profits from oil,” said Rasmus Hanssen, Secretary General of WWF Norway, according to the website.

The organization has long called for Russia to follow Norway’s suit and protect its biological resources from oil company expansion. In particular, a recent Rosneft-BP deal to jointly extract oil from the Arctic shelf has raised serious concerns among environmentalists. The companies plan to start drilling in 2015.

MOSCOW, March 14 (RIA Novosti)

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

 

Statoil drills new dry well in the Barents Sea

February 20, 2011

Where is the Barents oil?

2011-02-18 Barents Observer – original article here

The Polar Pioneer (statoilhydro.com)Statoil drills yet another dry well in the western part of the Barents Sea. 

Geologists, petroleum companies and politicians are highlighting that the Arctic is an area of high petroleum resource potential. US Geological Survey says nearly a quarter of the world’s undiscovered petroleum resources lie in the Arctic.

But where is it?

Norwegian Petroleum Directorate announced on Friday about yet another dry well. The well was drilled by Statoil 145 kilometres off the coast of Finnmark in the western Barents Sea. The well is in the same area as the Snøhvit gas field.

The well was drilled from the platform Polar Pioneer to a vertical depth of 2887 meters below the sea surface. It has now been permanently plugged and abandoned, according to the Petroleum Directorate.

Polar Pioneer will now proceed to another production license in the Barents Sea.

Read alsoNorway announces drilling boom in Barents Sea

In early January, the oil company Eni Norge announced that they had drilled a dry well just west of the Goliat field, also in the western part of the Barents Sea.

In December 2010, Shell said its exploration drilling at the Dalsnuten prospect in the Norwegian Sea proved unsuccessful.

BarentsObserver reported last autumn that there are large uncertainties about petroleum resources in the delimitation line area in the Barents Sea. Professor Jan Inge Faleide with the Insitute of Geology at the Univeristy of Oslo said there were good oil and gas fields in the southwestern Barents Sea, but that was five to ten million years ago.

– Much of the petroleum resources that might have been there is now gone, Faleide said.

Text: Thomas Nilsen

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

Norway extends offers for 39 new oil production licenses

January 19, 2011

http://www.worldoil.com/Norway_extends_offers_for_39_new_production_licenses.html

39 companies have recieved offers for 50 new production licences on the Norwegian continental shelf.

Of the 50 production licences, 31 are locate in the North Sea, 17 in the Norwegian Sea and two in the Barents Sea.

Russia to build nuclear-powered icebreaker for Arctic region

January 4, 2011

(Xinhua via Kerala.com, 26 December 2010) — Moscow – Russia will build a nuclear-powered icebreaker for use during winters in the country’s western Arctic region. The money earned through selling a stake in Sovcomflot, Russia’s largest shipbuilding company, will not go to state coffers but will be spent on building a new-generation nuclear-powered icebreaker, Deputy Prime Minister Sergei Ivanov said, according to Xinhua. The construction of the icebreaker, whose speed would reach 37 km per hour, will be completed in five years, he said. Russia’s Federal Atomic Agency, Rosatom, is currently waiting for a go-ahead for the project scheduled for 2011. Some officials, however, said that more analyses of the project’s cost were needed, because the project’s expense exceeded the initially estimated cost. The icebreaker will be used for work in the western Arctic, including Barents Sea, Pechora Sea and Kara Sea.

Original article here

In Russia, a Push for Floating Nuclear Power Plants

November 24, 2010

“the Arctic, which is inhospitable to terrorists.”

Floating arctic nuclear power plants is sad news, but the above statement made me laugh… I’m not so certain of the absoluteness of that claim!
Maybe terrorists are already holed up there in invisible ice fortresses like in James Bond or like Supermans icy cave?

Floating nuclear power plants certainly seems like a very bad idea, terrorists or not.

Hornfar


An artist’s rendering of the Academic Lomonosov, a Russian floating nuclear power station.

(Ken Stier/Time, 12 November 2010) — Russians have always embraced the Arctic. Thriving communities dot the country’s 4,300-mi (7,000 km) northern border, and the port town of Murmansk — home to 300,000 people — is the largest city north of the Arctic circle. America’s closest competitor? Barrow, Alaska, which has some 4,000 souls.

Servicing these far-flung communities has never been easy. The job has been handled largely by Russia’s fleet of nuclear-powered ice-breakers, hulking vessels that have the massive horsepower needed to ram sea ice up to two meters thick and bring in needed supplies. Keeping these towns heated and lit has been another challenge — one made harder after the collapse of Soviet-era energy and transportation subsidies. Now however, the resourceful Russians have come up with an idea, one that they hope could not only secure the country’s position as the preeminent Arctic power, but also blossom into a lucrative export business: floating nuclear power plants (FNPPs).

The idea of FNPPs is simple, if a little scary: Outfit a barge with two 35-megawatts reactors, float them to a spot off the coast and run cables to land to distribute your power. An FNPP set-up this size could power a city of 200,000.

The concept has some people screaming about “floating Chernobyls,” but the technology is safer than that. For one thing, the portable reactors are fairly proven hardware, derived from those used on the icebreakers. And while any nuclear reactor poses real dangers if something goes wrong, the FNPPs are comparative pipsqueaks — their 35 MW output only a fraction of the Chernobyl plant’s 4,000. A prototype vessel has already been launched at a St. Petersburg shipyard; after reactors are affixed it will be towed to Vilyuchinsk, a city (pop. 25,000) in the Russian Far East that is home to a squadron of nuclear submarines. It is expected to be operational in 2012.

FNPPs could help Russia expand its reach in another critical way: powering the country’s efforts to exploit its off-shore petroleum reserves, 90% of which lie in its Arctic continental shelf. Portable reactors would eliminate the cost and headache of transporting diesel long distances in harsh weather. That has Gazprom, which is keen to develop the world’s largest untapped gas field — Shtokman in the Barents Sea — signed up for several FNPPs from Rosatom, the state nuclear corporation. Other reactors are slated to be used in uranium mining.

“The ultimate objective of the state policy is to transform the Arctic into ‘Russia’s foremost strategic base for natural resources’ by 2020,” notes a Norwegian Defense Institute study, citing Russian documents. Western energy and mining firms are expected to be among the first customers for small reactors — and a number of western vendors, who see a growing global market, have begun developing their own systems. Shell considered one for its energy-intensive exploitation of tar sands in Alberta, Canada. Toshiba has already interested the remote Alaskan town of Galena (pop.700) in a ‘pocket nuke’ of 10 MW, to unshackle it from diesel-fired electricity that costs about 10 times the price paid in the lower 48.

So far though it is only Russia that is promoting water-based plants which, assurances aside, do present a host of new environmental, safety, liability and proliferation challenges.

Then there is the issue of where FNPPs might be deployed. Among a dozen or so countries reportedly interested is Indonesia, which is susceptible to tsunamis, not to mention terrorists who could hijack the vessel and steal radioactive material or simply blow the reactor up, possibly releasing a tremendous cloud of radioactive steam.

Russia’s solution is the Build-Own-Operate model. Host countries would simply buy electricity (perhaps desalinated water too), leaving everything else to the Russians. There would be no transfer of material or technology and Russia would haul waste and spent fuel for reprocessing home every three to four years, and tow the plant for maintenance every 12 years — three times in a plant’s life span.

“Historically, the Soviets and Russians have a dismal track record of nuclear waste management,” says Thomas B. Cochran, a nuclear expert with the Natural Resources Defense Council. But Cochran thinks FNPPs may not pose “a particularly new concern, [but] more of the same” — at least in the Arctic, which is inhospitable to terrorists.

Russia seems determined to improve its reputation for safety, and has announced that it will keep the enrichment level of the fuel in its portable nukes to under 20%, below the weapons-grade threshold. But the Norwegian Radiation Protection Authority worries that Moscow might eventually be tempted to step up its enrichment level to improve profitability since its “main focus” is commercial. Russia’s icebreakers were initially powered by 5% enriched fuel; its present, third-generation models run up to 90% — though in this case the motivation was efficiency, not money.

Still, since 1996, Russia has allowed the U.S., and later the U.K., Sweden and Norway to help patch up vulnerabilities in its icebreaker nuclear fuel cycle, which is a good sign of its seriousness. It’s too early to tell if such cooperation would survive in a commercial sphere, especially one in which Russia has a rare lead in an intense global competition.

Original article here