'Green rules broken' on Norway fields

Leak ruling: on Veslefrikk overturned for Statoil

Norway’s Environmental Agency (EA) uncovered regulatory breaches related to pollutive discharges and chemical waste handling on all offshore facilities where it carried out audits last year.

The EA has disclosed the results of inspections on 10 facilities – eight platforms and two drilling rigs –out of a total of 1444 industrial installations that came under scrutiny in the wide-ranging probe.

The agency carried out checks on emergency back-up for acute pollution, handling of oil and chemical discharges, waste handling and use of chemicals in drilling and other operations.

However, it found breaches of environmental regulations on all the facilities, according to a report.

“It shows that also the major oil companies are failing in their duty to comply with environmental rules,” said agency director Ellen Hambro.

She said the EA would carry out further audits related to drilling activity this year in the eco-sensitive Arctic region where Statoil, Lundin Petroleum and OMV, among others, are carrying out exploration.

Drilling work has sparked an environmental outcry due to the risk of a potential oil spill near the Arctic ice boundary, with Greenpeace attempting to block wells being drilled by Statoil in the frontier Hoop area of the Barents Sea.

Meanwhile, a Nkr10 million ($1.7 million) fine levied on Statoil over a chemical leak at its Veslefrikk field has been overturned as the EA and environmental group Bellona failed to file their complaints to the police within a set deadline, Norwegian publication Teknisk Ukeblad reported.

Norway’s attorney-general is reported to have annulled the penalty, imposed on the state-owned operator by Rogaland county’s public prosecutor earlier this year, due to the procedural glitch.

Statoil had refused to accept the fine, claiming it had not breached regulations in relation to the alleged discharge of 350 tonnes of chemicals onto the seabed from an injection well near the Veslefrikk A wellhead platform in the North Sea between 2002 and 2009.

The fine was based on Statoil’s alleged failure to monitor its own activity through remote measurement to detect pollution and take the required preventive action, according to the company.

Statoil would have been faced with court proceedings had the ruling not been reversed.

Legal rulings are awaited in similar cases involving incidents at the Njord and Statfjord B facilities operated by Statoil.

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