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17 August 2011

Fishermen to join oil spill preparedness organisation

PRESS RELEASE: Contracts for taking part in oil spill preparedness have now been offered by the Norwegian petroleum industry to fishing vessel owners in Finnmark for the first time.

“Fishermen have unique local knowledge and can mobilise at short notice”, observes Sjur W. Knudsen, chief executive of the Norwegian Clean Seas Association for Operating Companies (Nofo). “Their recruitment will provide a further strengthening of the oil spill preparedness organisation near shore.” 

Longterm initiative
Due to come on stream in 2013, the Goliat field off Finnmark will be the first producing oil development in the Norwegian sector of the Barents Sea. Operator Eni Norge, its partner Statoil and Nofo have worked systematically over several years with the northern region of the Norwegian Fishermen’s Association (NFA) to lay the basis for using local fishermen in responding to oil spills. New official regulations covering this area were adopted in February. 

The main job of the fishing boats will be to tow booms, but they could also be used for transporting equipment. 

“Drawing on the fishing fleet plus the unique expertise of fishermen about working in the open sea and on local weather and currents is effective and profitable for the oil industry, the fishing sector and society in general,” observes Ivar Sagen in the NFA’s northern region. 

“Utilising fishing vessels in the permanent oil-spill preparedness system represents an innovation,” explains Mr Knudsen. “Finnmark is first off the mark, but this scheme could also be relevant for other parts of the Norwegian coast.” 

Nofo has employed Polarkonsult in Harstad to assist in the selection of relevant fishing vessels. Interest among fishermen has made this a substantial job, with some 140 craft assessed. 

“It’s been important to use an independent third party,” explains Mr Knudsen. “We’re now offering contracts to the first vessels. Our target is to recruit 30 during 2011, but we’ll probably need more in the longer run.” 

Those who sign contracts will receive extensive training in oil spill clean-up during the autumn. This programme can be taken at the North Cape Maritime College and the Norwegian Fire Protection Training Institute in Tjeldsund. Eni Norge and Nofo entered into collaboration agreements with these centres of expertise in May. 

Participation in the emergency response system is viewed as an ancillary activity for the fishermen, which will not impact on their everyday work. At the same time, however, they will be required to make time for courses, practical exercises and possible actual clean-up campaigns. 

“In cooperation with the NFA and its northern region, we’ve worked to develop a unified contract comprising four main elements,” says Mr Knudsen. “These involve a base compensation for participating in the scheme together with rates for practical exercises, courses and clean-up operations.” 

Further information from
Sjur W Knudsen, Nofo, tel +47 51 56 30 00, mobile +47 90 82 23 13
Ivar Sagen, NFA’s northern region, NFA, tel +47 77 68 20 56, mobile +47 91 84 73 96
Andreas Wulff, Eni Norge, tel + 52 87 49 68, mobile 926 16 759