Zero discharge policy for Norwegian Shelf

Norwegian Shelf operators are taking another step towards environmental sustainability with an agreement on goals and a schedule for work on zero discharges from oil and gas activities.

The Norwegian Pollution Control Authority (SFT), the Norwegian Petroleum Directorate (NPD) and the Norwegian Oil Industry Association (OLF) have set a deadline of 2005 for existing fields to meet the guidelines while new fields must immediately comply.

The largest discharges of oil from petroleum activities come from the discharge of produced water. In addition to oil a number of chemicals are discharged, both in connection with cleaning the produced water and from drilling.

By late 2003 the operating companies must report on the progress they have made to meet the requirements with cost and environmental effectiveness being key elements for the operators when selecting zero discharge measures. Work is already underway on a number of alternative solutions such as reduced water production or improved cleaning of produced water.

The measures taken are sure to be closely scrutinised by Australian operators due to the predilection of Australian regulators to import North Sea controls.