Norwegians hunting oil spills in the dark


Oil spills that have to be found and recovered in the dark was one of the things the oil industry practiced in the annual oil on water exercise. The oil companies’ clean-up toolbox includes both satellite mapping, special radar and infrared cameras. “This is an important opportunity to practice oil spill preparedness under realistic conditions,” says Operations Manager Steinar Solvang in the Norwegian Clean Seas Association for Operating Companies (NOFO).

The oil on water exercise was held on the Frigg field in the North Sea during the period 8-12 June, and it was a unique exercise because NOFO was practicing how to find and recover oil spills in the dark. The use of modern remote measurement tools such as oil radars and infrared cameras makes it possible to recover oil in conditions with very poor visibility.  

“Now we will be testing new skimming equipment, further developing remote measurement tools and working on capturing and recovering free-flowing oil in the dark. This will yield the most realistic exercise possible for all parts of the response apparatus,” says Solvang.

Using oil is unique

Another important factor in making the exercise as realistic as possible is the use of oil. More than 200 cubic metres of oil was discharged, and then recovered. Norway is probably the only country in the world to allow the discharge of so much oil for the sake of testing.

“We normally use substitutes for oil, such as popcorn. However, we organise this exercise once a year where we discharge oil on to the sea, subject to the authorities’ approval, of course. We greatly appreciate the fact that the authorities recognize the value of training under the most realistic conditions possible,” says Solvang.

Significant mobilisation

The oil on water drill was the largest and most extensive annual oil spill preparedness exercise on the Norwegian Shelf. A total of about 100 people were involved, including personnel from the oil industry, the supplier industry, the Coast Guard and the Coastal Administration. NOFO manages two modern oil recovery vessels: Stril Herkules and Stril Power, as well as two towing vessels: Peter Henry von Koss and the coastal fishing vessel Willassen. One Coast Guard vessel, KV Tor, also took part in the exercise.

Source:  The Norwegian Oil Industry Association (OLF)

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