GEO ExPro

Prudent Resource Management

Roughly 25 million Euros will be spent next year by the Norwegian government on mapping two regions offshore Norway that have not yet been offered for licensing. The reason for omitting the frontier provinces of Nordland VII and Troms II (offshore Lofoten and Vesterålen) from licensing, is strong resistance from environmentalists claiming that exploring for oil and gas will harm the fisheries and the overall environment.
This article appeared in Vol. 5, No. 5 - 2008

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The scenery is stunning. So also is the exploration potential, according to many geologists, with billions of barrels of oil to be found. Nordland VII and Troms II offshore Northern Norway is, however, not yet open for exploration. Photo: Halfdan Carstens That remains to be proved, but we all know that greedy fishermen will most certainly sweep the area clean if they are not stopped by regulations. Thanks to commercial fishing over the last decades, in fact, many birds are about to vanish from this pristine coast.  

Despite fierce protests from the fishermen's friends, the geological mapping of Nordland VII and Troms II by the Norwegian Petroleum Directorate has been going on for two years, and will now continue into its third year, based on funds recently allocated by the government in their 2009 budget. This follows commercial geophysical multiclient surveys carried out in the 1990's, at a time when everybody thought that exploration of this frontier province was imminent.   

The purpose of the geological mapping programme is to obtain better knowledge of the hydrocarbon resources in a province that is believed by many to be highly prospective. In addition to seismic data (2D and 3D), CSEM has also been acquired, thereby giving the authorities an even better idea of whether oil or gas can be found.  

We need as much information as we can get before drilling, in order to drill in the right place. Nobody disagrees with that. The question is, who should be responsible for acquiring such data? Almost everywhere else, to my knowledge, acquiring geophysical data in frontier areas is left to the geophysical companies and as such paid by the oil industry itself. The government's responsibility should be limited to a simple assessment without going into the details. The geological risk should be left to the service and oil companies.  

This may be the right time to discuss if governmental bodies, at the taxpayers' expense, should play an active role in exploration, or if they should only stick to "prudent resource management", as stated in Norwegian Petroleum Directorate's "objectives and duties".

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