Call us at

Arctic Council 2013 Oil Spill Preparedness Agreement

Ivin Aarnes: Given the physical environment and geography, weather, cold temperatures, darkness and accessibility, the response to oil pollution is quite a challenge in some regions. Synnéve Lunde: The Arctic environment is very sensitive to oil spills. They may have only a few species, but a large number of individuals. An oil spill in the wrong place at the wrong time could cause serious damage to this specific species. In 2013, ministers from the eight Arctic countries signed the “Cooperation Agreement on The Preparedness and Response to Pollution caused by Marine Oil in the Arctic.” Since the signing of the agreement, Arctic states have conducted an exercise organized by Canada in 2014 as part of the agreement. The second exercise is conducted by the United States. The formal ratification process for the agreement was completed at the end of March 2016. Synnéve Lunde: The main differences of an oil spill in the Arctic compared to the southern regions are the cold waters and harsh conditions. We do not have much experience with different types of oil in the Arctic and how they react to cold water. Cold water and the presence of sea ice can affect oil leakage equipment and make their use more difficult or impossible. Cold temperatures also affect responders. How can the data improve the response to oil spills in the Arctic and how will the rapidly changing Arctic impact the future response to oil pollution? We spoke with two experts involved in the development of COSRVA, ivin Aarnes, Senior Specialist in Risk and Environmental Prevention at DNV GL, and Synnéve Lunde, Senior Advisor to the Norwegian Coastal Administration, to find out.

The next step in this process was seen as recognition of the necessary support. In all cases, the part in the waters from which the incident occurs is expected to activate its national response protocols. In areas of common interest, it is likely that binational or multilateral agreements will also be put in place prior to the call for help. If the need for response requires additional support, the guidelines provide a mechanism to request this assistance. To this end, the guidelines will take into account the development of the application to the signatories, the requirements for recognition and evaluation of the proposed assistance. In addition, the guidelines recommend the development of a liaison officer as a representative of the supporting party`s activities to assist in a variety of ways. Finally, it was recognized that, outside of the agreement, the parties could accommodate unsolicited offers of assistance, as has been the case in previous incidents, including the 2010 Gulf of Mexico spill. As a result, “recommendations for the coordination mechanism for international aid offers” were added to the guidelines.

The aim of the agreement is to strengthen immediate cooperation and coordination between the eight Arctic states (Canada, Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway, Russia, Sweden and the United States) to combat oil spills in the Arctic. The attempt by The Arctic Council countries to negotiate a second oil exit agreement in 2013 and 2014, which deals not only with the response to an oil spill caused by offshore oil operations (as well as shipping), but also with the prevention of oil pollution in general, shows that these problems are real. The whole issue was more threatening than prevention and response, because the best way to avoid an epidemic by offshore oil drilling is of course not to drill up front, and none of the countries concerned is prepared to do this not very obvious.