‘Superwave’ storm could hit Norway oil facilities

A massive Atlantic weather front set to bring storms to half of Norway on Friday could bring a feared 30-metre “100-year wave” crashing into the offshore oil and gas installations lubricating the economy.

'Superwave' storm could hit Norway oil facilities
Photo: BP p.l.c.

The potential hurricane forced an emergency meeting at oil company BP Norway's Stavanger headquarters. As the oil company pondered possible shut-downs, meteorologists met to decide on a name for the storm.

“Winds up around hurricane strength in combination with such extreme low-frequency waves can create big problems for oil production in the Norwegian Sea,” said storm weather centre meteorologist Roar Inge Hansen.

The Norwegian Sea oilfields Skarv and Heidrun — which cost 120 billion kroner ($20.5 billion) but inject 6 billion kroner per year into the economy —  look set to bear the brunt of the coming big weather. Skarv, a tanker with production equipment onboard and below its hull, is connected to underwater oil pipelines. Heidrun stands on a concrete pylon.

At least six helicopters a week fly out to the Skarv production ship from nearby Brønnøysund on the mainland 200 kilometres to the east. At Skarv and bracing for the storm are the two companies hit hardest by the Horizon oil disaster in the Gulf of Mexico last year — BP and Transocean.

Norway’s oil infrastructure is built to tackle the “biggest waves in a hundred years”, yet weather has forced evacuations of platforms and land-based installations in the past.

The storm Narve forced an evacuation by cruise vessel of Statoil’s prestige Arctic gas installation Snøhvit in Hammerfest

The 100-year wave will test the Skarv facility’s 15 innovative suction anchors as well as the 300-metre-long ship itself. Its tanks can hold 850,000 barrels of oil at a time.

BP and Statoil, the two big players in the Norwegian Sea, can stop production ahead of the weather front’s impact if deemed necessary. While Skarv isn’t the only production ship in the Norwegian Sea, its vessel type is normally only deployed in the world’s tropical doldrums, where storms are less savage.

All of central and northern Norway, especially the rocky whaling communities of the Lofoten Archipelago, has been warned to stay clear of the coast on Friday.

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Norway fails to agree fishing quota deal with United Kingdom

Norway and Britain have ended their negotiations for a bilateral deal on fishing quotas without reaching an agreement, the Norwegian government announced Friday.

Norway fails to agree fishing quota deal with United Kingdom
Boats moored in Bergens harbour. Photo by Lachlan Gowen on Unsplash

Both sides had mutually agreed that it was “time to put an end to the negotiations,” the government said in a statement.

“Brexit has undoubtedly created a number of challenges for the Norwegian fishing industry. It has proved extremely difficult to reach an agreement with the United Kingdom on zone access and quota exchange for 2021. When it comes to mutual access to fish in each other’s waters on common stocks, the distance was too great for us to reach an agreement,” Norway’s fisheries minister Odd Emil Ingerbrigsten said.

“Norway has had a firm stance throughout the negotiations in consultation with the fishing industry,” the fishing minister added.

This means that Norwegian fishermen will not be able to fish in British waters and their British counterparts will not be able to fish in Norwegian waters this year.

In March, the EU, Britain and Norway reached a three-way agreement, the first since Brexit, for the overall level of allowable catches in the North Sea.

READ ALSO: Why Norwegian fisherman are against more offshore wind farms

But the three parties still had to reach bilateral agreements on quota exchange and access to each other’s fishing grounds.

While Oslo and Brussels reached such an agreement, the EU and Norway still had to find common ground with Britain.

As a compromise was not reached with London by the deadline set at the end of March, the EU adopted temporary quotas until July 31 for waters shared with Britain.

Tensions have resurfaced in recent days, with European fishermen complaining about London’s tardiness in issuing fishing permits for the zone off the British coast.