SAR’s Norwegian member Norges Naturvernforbund held country wide burning of beacons in over 80 locations to protest against proposed oil drilling in the Norwegian Arctic circle.

They invited people to light beacons on top of hills across the country, in repeat of a successful event they held in 2011, which saw beacons lit at 50 different locations.

Naturvernforbund, or otherwise know as Friends of the Earth Norway, is protesting at the government’s current plans to allow oil drilling in 3 ecologically sensitive and pristine areas - Lofoten, Vesterålen and Senja. The Government has twice rejected plans for oil exploration in these areas because of the importance of the waters as spawning grounds for major fisheries but has now backtracked on this position.

Environmental groups in Norway are concerned that the drilling will create black carbon or soot, which will settle on the arctic snow and intensify global warming. They also say that techniques for clearing oil spills on ice are poor, and there is a high potential for an environmental disaster.

High risk of severe spills from oil production

In related news, a study published in Environmental Science and Technology has found that the risk of severe oil spills from oil exploration and production activities is higher than in contrast to spills from ships, pipelines, storage facilities or refineries.

The study conducted analysis of 1213 accidental oil spills occurring from 1974 to 2010. They found that ships, storage, refineries and pipelines had far more accidents, however the amounts of oil released were smaller than during exploration or production.

Six million tons of spilled oil came from 888 ship incidents; 870,000 tons from 113 spills at storage and refinery sites and 750,000 tons from 188 spills from pipelines. However, 2.2 million tons were spilled by just 24 incidents during exploration and production.

The findings of the study send out an ominous warning for what might lie ahead in the Arctic if oil drilling is allowed to go ahead in the region.

To read about the event on Norges Naturvernforbund

Oil spills analysis:

Eckle, P., Burgherr, P. and Edouard Michaux, E. (2012). Risk of Large Oil Spills: A Statistical Analysis in the Aftermath of Deepwater Horizon. Environmental Science & Technology. 46: 13002-13008

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