The Ministry of Petroleum and Energy last week submitted an impact assessment relating to petroleum activities in the area around Jan Mayen on public hearing. Interested parties are invited to comment on the impact assessment within the next three months.
The impact assessment forms part of the process of opening areas on the Norwegian Continental Shelf around Jan Mayen for petroleum activities. A geological survey has also been undertaken. Given that the impact assessment provides a basis for doing so, the government will present a white paper to the Storting, recommending that the area be opened for petroleum activities.
“The maritime areas around Jan Mayen may contain substantial oil and gas resources. The impact assessment is now being submitted for public hearing so that interested parties may give feedback and contribute to quality assurance of the studies that have been carried out,” says Minister of Petroleum and Energy Ola Borten Moe.
The Norwegian Petroleum Directorate has previously carried out limited studies of the oil and gas potential of the areas around Jan Mayen. As part of the opening process, the Directorate undertook a new geological survey in 2011 and 2012. The initial results of the survey will be presented in early 2013.
The impact assessment summarises technical reports prepared by government agencies and independent expert institutions. The reports cover matters defined in an impact assessment programme that was finalised following a public hearing in the autumn of 2011.
One finding of the impact assessment is that a major, sudden oil spill may have a negative environmental effect, but the probability of such an incident occurring is very low.
The impact assessment is being submitted for public hearing to give affected parties an opportunity to comment on the work undertaken thus far. The aim is to ensure a high level of technical quality. Three months are allocated for consultation on the impact assessment. Comments must be submitted to the Ministry of Petroleum and Energy by 16 January 2013.
The impact assessment, comments received through the public hearing and the assessment of the resource potential will form the technical basis for a possible decision to open the area for petroleum activities.
The Ministry is at the same time initiating a public hearing on an impact assessment relating to the Barents Sea South-East.
Press Release, October 22, 2012; Image: NPD