Statoil bashed over spill preparedness

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State pollution authorities have monitored state oil company Statoil’s oil spill preparedness at Haltenbanken in the North Sea, and they’re not pleased. Statoil was caught breaking the law on several points, and deficient on others.

Statoil operates five fields at Haltenbanken in the North Sea. PHOTO: Climate and Pollution Agency

Statoil operates five oil fields on Haltenbanken and has come under new harsh criticism, reports newspaper Aftenposten. Oil spills or leaks in the area could have serious consequences for the environment, according to recent inspection by Norway’s Climate and Pollution Agency (Klima- og Forurensingsdirektoratet, Klif), formerly known as Statens Forurensingtilsyn, SFT.

The Klif inspectors claim that Statoil couldn’t document that its preparedness for acute pollution of Haltenbanken was in compliance with current regulations. “This is serious,” said Klif director Ellen Hambro, adding that Statoil officials have been called in for a meeting.

Statoil was given until June 20 to document that anti-pollution measures have been taken and that the company is in compliance. “We will follow this up closely,” Hambro said.

Haltenbanken encompasses the Kristin, Åsgard, Heidrun, Norne and Njord fields where Statoil is the operator. Statoil is said to have a “functioning preparedness tied to activities on Haltenbanken” but couldn’t document whether it has the dimensions needed to tackle acute pollution.

“We haven’t received documentation that Statoil can handle a major oil spill at Haltenbanken,” Hambro said. “We expect that a company like Statoil has better control than this.”

A Statoil spokesman said the company disagreed with Klif that it has broken the law regarding oil spill preparedness.

“We believe that preparedness is at least as robust today as when it was established,”said Ola Anders Skauby of Statoil. He conceded, however, that “it has taken too long to update our plans.”

Klif’s criticism is the latest in a long list of concerns over Statoil’s oil spill preparedness and oil platform safety. Gas leaks on its Gullfaks platforms have led to their closure and petroleum authorities have also found various deficiencies in recent years.

Views and News from Norway/Nina Berglund
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