Eureka: Expansion of oil and gas operations raises environmental concerns

Graphic pictures of wildlife covered in black gloop are the obvious symbols of the environmental devastation that can occur when large amounts of crude oil are spilt. It is a situation in which nobody wins. The environment is severely damaged and the oil and gas companies lose millions in lost revenue, cleaning costs and fines.

(Excerpt) The oil and gas industry is taking steps to deal with the eventuality of an oil spill and wants to find out how the unique conditions of the Arctic will affect any response. To help understand the challenges, members of the International Petroleum Industry Environmental Conservation Association (IPIECA), Oil Spill Working Group (OSWG), Industry Technical Advisory Committee (ITAC) and the American Petroleum Institute (API) Emergency Preparedness and Response Program Group (EP&RPG) set-up the Arctic Oil Spill Response Technology Joint Industry Programme (JIP) in January.

The consortium is supported by nine international oil and gas companies including BP, Shell, Statoil, and Total. It is to build on existing research and improve the technologies, and methodologies, for dealing with a potential oil spill in the Arctic. It will carry out 10 in-depth research projects around six key areas including computer modelling of oil behaviour in Arctic conditions to help map and predict the trajectory of spills, the effectiveness of chemical dispersants in Arctic waters, mechanical recovery, detection, the actual environmental impact and in situ burning.

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