Northernmost drill site in Arctic threat to ice edge and nature reserve

Nyhet - 17 juli, 2013
Oslo 2013 – Greenpeace fear risky oil drilling plans in the Barents Sea after analysis shows oil spill from Norwegian company Statoil's Hoop-field could hit the ice edge and a nature reserve.

An oil spill from Norwegian Statoil's northernmost drill site in the Barents Sea could hit the ice edge in only 14 days, and the nature reserve Bear Island in 80 days, according to a new analysis conducted by the Norwegian Meteorological Institute for Greenpeace. Norwegian regulations forbid drilling in icy waters, mainly because there is no adequate way of cleaning up oil spills from icy waters.

- We applaud our new government's decision to maintain this important principle of not drilling in icy waters. However, this analysis proves that an oil spill near Hoop will land in ice and will be near impossible to clean up, Program manager for Greenpeace in Norway, Truls Gulowsen says.

The nature reserve Bear Island is home to polar foxes, seals and a large number of seabird species. It is also home to a number of polar bears every winter. Oil drilling near Hoop might require establishing a helicopter base in the nature reserve, which could have damaging consequences for the island's wildlife.

- This beautiful island got its name from the polar bear that swam past when it was discovered, and it is home to polar foxes, sea birds and seals. We do not want oil companies to gamble with this area, says Truls Gulowsen.

After Austrian oil company OMV found oil close to Hoop earlier this fall, oil and gas companies has rushed to the area north in the Barents Sea.

Last year Statoil postponed its planned northernmost drilling because the platform wasn't fit for Arctic conditions. Drilling in the Arctic still holds many risks with extreme weather, icing and tall waves increasing the chance for spills, Greenpeace points out.

- Drilling this far north in extreme Arctic conditions is madness, especially when we see the damage an oil spill here could do. It is unnecessary to risk this sensitive environment in looking for oil and gas that we cannot afford to burn anyway, says Gulowsen.

28 activists and two journalists are currently detained in Russia after a peaceful protest against oil drilling in icy waters outside the Russian coast.

Contact: Truls Gulowsen, Program manager for Greenpeace in Norway: (+47) 901 07 904 Åshild Lappegård Lahn, Press officer, Greenpeace in Norway (+47) 977 10 530