Fishing crews sought to support Barents spill response

Offshore staff

SANDNES, Norway -- Fishing vessel owners in Finnmark region in northern Norway have been offered contracts to participate in local oil spill preparedness programs.

"Fishermen have unique local knowledge and can mobilize at short notice", said Sjur Knudsen, CEO of the Norwegian Clean Seas Association for Operating Companies (Nofo). "Their recruitment will provide a further strengthening of the oil spill preparedness organisation near shore."

One of their main roles will be to support activity at Eni Norge’s Goliat field, the first oilfield development in the Norwegian sector of the Barents Sea, due onstream in 2013.

Eni, partner Statoil and Nofo have been working for several years with the northern region of the Norwegian Fishermen's Association (NFA) on use of local fishermen to responding to oil spills. New regulations covering this area came into force in February. The fishing boats will be used mainly to tow booms, and potentially also for transporting equipment.

"Drawing on the fishing fleet plus the unique expertise of fishermen about working in the open sea and on local weather and currents is effective and profitable for the oil industry," said Ivar Sagen in the NFA's northern region.

Knudsen added that arrangement could be duplicated along other parts of the Norwegian coast.

Nofo has employed Polarkonsult in Harstad to assist with selection of relevant fishing vessels, with around 140 craft assessed. Nofo’s target is to offer contracts for 30 vessels in 2011, with more to come in the longer run.

Those who sign contracts will receive training in oil spill clean-up during the fall at either the North Cape Maritime College or the Norwegian Fire Protection Training Institute in Tjeldsund. Eni and Nofo entered into collaboration agreements with both institutes in May.


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