The BP-leased Deepwater Horizon rig exploded on April 20, and two days later the rig sank in 1500 meters of water. Eleven people were killed, and oil gushed unchecked into the Gulf of Mexico from the open well for 87 days before it was plugged.
The accident has been described as the worst environmental disaster in US history, and is by sheer volume, the worst accidental spill to ever take place in the world.
Shortly after the accident happened, the Norwegian Oil Industry Association (OLF) and the Norwegian Clean Seas Association for Operating Companies (NOFO) Ordered a review of Norwegian and US regulations from Det Norske Veritas (DNV), to compare and identify differences in regulation by which the two countries operate their offshore drilling.
The report was presented yesterday, and according to OLF managing director Gro Brækken, it displays that Norwegian regulations contribute to the safe operation:
“The function -based regulations in Norway allow for continuous development , while the operators have a clear responsibility. This means additional quality control in all operations. I have no doubt that it contributes to a high level of security, “said Brækken in on the OLF’s website.
“The function-based regulations in Norway means that operators are responsible for their internal oversight – and as we see it, it’s a bit like when the feed bag suits the goat. It should be possible to do both – have both internal and strong external oversight,” said Hauge.
Hauge said the DNV report is part of a campaign the Norwegian oil industry has undertaken to distance itself from the BP disaster in the United States.
“The oil lobby in this country now seems desperate to distance itself from what has happened in the US and the Gulf of Mexico, and to highlight differences between Norway and the United States to create an image that things are so much better this country,” Hauge said.
“We know that a disaster similar to the Deepwater Horizon can happen on the Norwegian continental shelf because there are a number of mechanisms that are the same in all drilling operations. The risk of a blowout is always present, ” he said.
Oil in the north ?
The OLF director yesterday told ANB, a Norwegian newsire, that she would like to use the Veritas report in a future impact assessment for the disputed areas where the industry would like to drill off the coast of Lofoten and Vesterålen in Northern Norway
“I can not understand why anyone would oppose an impact assessment . It’s about what demands the industry must meet and what opportunities are there, “said Brækken .
But Haugue countered that, “I would strongly advise against using this report for the benefit of oil production in vulnerable areas in the north, “he said, adding, “which is not surprising coming from the OLF.”
“We did not expect anything else from the OLF. They have never hidden the fact that they want oil production in the Lofoten, Vesterålen and Senja. They are not however, as keen to emphasize that there is a major difference between the Norwegian and US oil industry in the way readiness is built up,” adding that on the US continental shelf, oil spills are calculated with the assumption of the worst case scenario, where Norway is not ready for the worst case. In Norway, spill probability is calculated by individual operators relying on weather data, climate conditions, temperature, and light conditions as factors.
“In the event of oil production in the north, we will have major problems in securing oil spill mitigation – precisely because the climatic conditions make a good standby impossible most of the time. It is worrying that this country is not prepared if the worst should happen,” said Hauge.