To main content

Norwegian oil-spill protection expertise sent to Murmansk

SINTEF is to build up a special oil analysis section in Russia’s federal control and test laboratory in Murmansk.

The move is intended to improve our ability to deal with oil-spills in the event of one of the Russian tankers that sail along the coast of Norway going aground or being shipwrecked.

Every day, between six and eight Russian tankers sail along the coast of Norway, and this traffic has long been a source of anxiety because of the possibility of oil-spills. If a tanker with 100,000 tonnes of crude oil were to go aground on the coast of Finnmark, it would have serious consequences for the environment of the whole region.

On the basis of an initiative taken by SINTEF, Statoil has decided to finance the development of a laboratory in Murmansk, and SINTEF has received funding to start a two-year project that will include the transfer of competence to Russian technicians. The aim is that every cargo of oil that leaves the Kola Peninsula in the direction of Norway will be analysed in Murmansk in order to determine its degradability properties.

Knowledge of this sort is essential to enable the Norwegian Coastal Administration to deploy the most appropriate measures if an oil-spill response campaign has to be launched.

“We need to know how the oil will behave on the surface of the sea in order to be able to implement suitable measure”, says project manager Kristin Sørheim of SINTEF’s Department of Marine Environmental Technology. “Each type of oil has its own peculiarities. With the aid of tests and chemical characterisation, we can identify these before the tankers leave Murmansk. So if there is an accident that leads to an oil-spill, we will already have the data that will enable the most appropriate measures to be put into effect right away.”

Some time in February, representatives of Statoil, SINTEF and the Murmansk authorities will sign a contract for the work. There already is a laboratory in Murmansk, which will be extended and supplied with the equipment needed.

“We will transfer our expertise to a couple of people on the Russian side, who will come to SINTEF three or four times in the course of the project, and we will also go to Russia to give some training courses”, says Sørheim.

By Åse Dragland