Searching for oil - with the help of fishermen. The Danish energy company, DONG Energy, maintains a close dialogue and cooperates with authorities and local fishermen regarding an oil spill contingency plan in the Barents Sea.
Often you have to sacrifice pawns to win at chess. That was the general approach to oil production back in the old days. This, however, is a far cry from DONG Energy's approach. In the northernmost regions of Norway, fishermen are helping DONG Energy establish a contingency plan in the event of a major oil spill taking place.
"When we search for oil in the in the Barents Sea in Norway, there are a number of special environmental considerations to be taken into account. And the weather conditions can make tackling a potential oil spill in the sea difficult. This is why we have already joined forces with the other oil companies and fishermen operating in the coastal areas where we are searching for oil," explains Morten A. Torgersen, Quality Health Safety Environment Manager for DONG Energy's Norwegian gas and oil business.
With 20 years' experience in oil and gas production, DONG Energy draws on a vast wealth of industry experience gleaned initially from its operations in the Danish part of the North Sea (which are still ongoing) - subsequent operations in the Norwegian Sea and in the Norwegian North Sea - and in the last 10 years, exploration activities near the Shetland Islands. Each region, however, has its own unique characteristics and the arctic conditions of the Barents Sea require new, in-depth insight.
Morten A. Torgersen explains: "We always carry out thorough studies of the environmental conditions prior to drilling. But the Barents Sea is a new region for us and if we don't have all the necessary information, we can't prepare an accurate environmental analysis. This is why we contacted the local fishermen and relevant authorities, including Sametinget in Finnmark County. These stakeholders have a great deal of knowledge about the actual conditions and strong opinions about how we should act as an industry".
Today, DONG Energy maintains a close dialogue with the fishermen, not only to gain more information about the geographical conditions and possible consequences of an oil spill in the region, but also because the fishermen and their vessels play an important part in the oil contingency plan in the Barents Sea.
DONG Energy co-owns four oil and gas licences in the Barents Sea, three of which it operates itself. DONG Energy has a total of nearly 70 licences which cover Denmark, Norway, the UK (near the Shetland Islands), the Faroe Islands and Greenland.