It is a prerequisite for Statoil that we can develop the oil and gas resources in Nordland and Troms without coming into conflict with the industries already operating in the area.
The continental shelf is much narrower off Lofoten and Vesterålen and South Troms than it is in the North Sea and the Barents Sea. This will impact on how the oil industry adjusts itself to fisheries, as we cannot alone simply take over this limited area.
The use of seabed installations represents a solution to the potential area conflict. For it is now possible to develop an entire oil and gas field without having a single platform visible on the surface. Statoil leads the world when it comes to adopting this technology.
This is the solution we have adopted on the Snøhvit gas field in the Barents Sea. It is fully possible to trawl over seabed installations so that local fishermen will not lose their fishing grounds. The Ormen Lange field has also been developed in similar fashion.
Oil companies use seismic to map the subsurface. The sound waves emitted by seismic vessels help geologists get a picture of the rock formations beneath the sea. By studying these we can see where there are formations that may contain oil and gas, and where the most promising prospects for exploratory drilling are found.
Research has so far demonstrated that seismic does not physically harm fish but that it may scare them away, though the stocks will quickly reconstitute in the normal way. In the spring of 2010 the authorities presented the results of the research into the consequences of seismic data collection off Lofoten and Vesterålen in the summer of 2009. These research results indicate that there were no dramatic effects on the fish landed.
Statoil believes that special regulations should be drawn up for seismic collection in these waters, rules that limit the scope of the activity and the times at which it can be carried out. If this is done properly, there will be intervals of many years between each occasion on which the oil companies need to collect new subsurface data.