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


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".


Related Articles

Editorials Worldwide

Applauding Progress

Great credit must be given to the many people from both academic and organisational backgrounds who have spent many man-years – and millions of dollars – in continuing to develop these systems. It has often required new and innovative ideas, but also a lot of persistence and basic hard slog.
Cggv%20p%2017 thumb

Editorials Worldwide

An Imprecise Science

In October this year, six geoscientists were jailed for not predicting the imminence and severity of the earthquake which hit the Italian town of L’Aquila in April 2009, killing 309 people and leaving thousands homeless. The justice – or injustice – of the sentences is obviously a matter of debate. But there are a number of lessons to be learnt from this tragic story.
Laquila thumb