Sunday, March 15, 2015

Report Calls For New Emergency Response Approach In The High Arctic

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Handout/Young Keun Jin/Korean Polar Institute

"HOVIK, Norway – DNV GL has published a report on emergency preparedness solutions in the Norwegian sector of Arctic Ocean.
"The report “Emergency response for offshore operations in the Barents Seaexamines the impact of wind speed, wave height, and sea ice on potential evacuation and rescue resources in the area, and assesses the long-range rescue capability provided by search and rescue helicopters."
It identifies challenges for offshore installations that include: sea spray icing, darkness, lack of offshore infrastructure, long distances between installations and support sites, sea ice, low temperatures, and wind chill."
"A coordinated approach to exploration activities in remote areas would help ensure safe offshore operations in the Barents Sea. Operators could share emergency response resources and their associated costs to ensure sufficient response capacity.”

 Our view is that the High Arctic is a dangerous place and hypersensitive environment. The U.S. at the moment is swimming in shale oil and Gulf of Mexico production and should be exporting oil. We don't have to rush into the Arctic and our last two attempts met with disaster.  Fortunately the breakdown and lost tow happened before the mobile offshore drilling rigs even reached the High Arctic and there was no loss of life or environmental damage.  Noble Drilling and Shell Oil are gearing up for another attempt using one of the 30 year old drill ships that didn't get out of Southern Alaska on the last attempt. Clearly the High Arctic is not somewhere for drilling on the cheap. At a minimum High Arctic Drilling ought to be by drilling vessels designed and built in the U.S. with plans reviewed and approved by the American Bureau of Shipping and the U.S. Coast Guard; purpose built for rugged Arctic service. The vessels should be manned by an all American crew with no language barriers. America has no need to be first in the High Arctic, and indeed it is already too late for that. Its time to slow down, study the situation including the experiences of the exploration and production industries that are already operating above the Arctic Circle. We have time to do it right with properly developed standards for operations and equipment. The Arctic is not the bathwater warm Gulf of Mexico which has been much abused but survived mostly thanks to a warm climate and ocean replete with crude oil eating micro organisms. There will be no second chances in the High Arctic.

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