"If these work as intended, we are on the verge of a technological breakthrough," says managing director Sjur W. Knudsen in the Norwegian Clean Seas Association for Operating Companies (NOFO).
The oil industry's comprehensive technology development programme ”Oljevern 2010” (Oil spill response 2010) has been an incubator for new ideas to improve oil spill preparedness. The oil industry's large, annual oil spill response drill will take place on the Frigg field in the North Sea in Week 24. Several of the innovations will be subjected to their first tests there. The great expectations are primarily linked to several recently developed, rapid-moving collection systems.
"The new booms are designed to collect oil at speeds of 3–4 knots. Higher speeds mean we can hunt for oil more efficiently and operate in stronger ocean currents," says Knudsen.
The companies MDGroup/Egersund Trål and Åkrehamn Trålbøteri have each developed new collection systems, both of which can be towed considerably faster than current systems.
"Both Egersund Trål and Åkrehamn Trålbøteri have solid knowledge and experience from how advanced fishing systems must be made to function in different weather and wave conditions. They have used this expertise to develop these systems," says Knudsen.
The drill on the Frigg field will involve deploying oil on the sea. Norway is one of few countries in the world that permit this type of testing of equipment and procedures. These annual oil-on-water drills are important both as regards operational verification of oil spill response equipment and the routines for handling real spills.
"We need to train more under as realistic conditions as possible. We are therefore very pleased that the authorities give us this possibility. The drills will be held without harming people and the environment, and without damaging material," says Knudsen.
The oil-on-water drill is being followed with strong interest from both national and international expert environments. During this year's drill, 250–300 people, boats from the oil industry and Coast Guard, helicopters, airplanes and the onshore organisation will be involved.
NOFO - the Norwegian Clean Seas Association for Operating Companies - develops and handles oil spill preparedness on the Norwegian shelf to combat oil pollution on behalf of 30 operating companies. This includes emergency preparedness both in open seas, in coastal waters and in the beach zone.
Sjur W. Sjur W. Knudsen, managing director, NOFO, mobile +47 908 22 313
Tom Gederø, communications manager of the Norwegian Oil Industry Association (OLF), mobile tel. +47 922 47 082