AS2: Oil spill prevention, preparedness and response in the Arctic

Date: Wednesday October 10, 2018

Location: Valtuustosali, City Hall

Time: 15:15-17:15

Changes in the Arctic sea ice are opening previously inaccessible areas to industrial activity, including natural resource development and shipping. Whether through ship accidents, well leaks or blowouts, oil spills pose serious risks to the Arctic environment. Extreme weather conditions and ice-covered waters can increase the likelihood of oil spills, affect response capabilities and hinder effective clean-up. The damage caused by oil spills can be long-lasting and far reaching, affecting Arctic ecosystems and threatening food security for Arctic peoples. This session brings together presentations from researchers, Indigenous representatives, NGOs, managers and industry to share their perspectives and knowledge on oil spill prevention, preparedness and response in the Arctic.

Chairs: Jens Peter Holst-Andersen, Emergeny Prevention, Preparedness and Reponse (EPPR); Liisa Rohweder, WWF Finland; Melanie Lancaster, WWF Arctic

Format: Series of presentations followed by discussion


  • Oil spill preparedness, response and capacity in the Arctic: an introduction: Liisa Rohweder, WWF pdf
  • Modernising the international Arctic oil and gas regulatory framework, TBC: WWF 
  • Response capacity for oiled wildlife and clean up in the Russian Arctic: Alexey Knizhnikov, WWF  pdf
  • Arctic Coast Bioremediation (The first "small" results of a "big" project): Vladimir Myazin, Institute of North Industrial Ecology Problems, Kola Science Centre of Russian Academy of Science 
  • Ecosystem modelling as a tool to assess the impact of a major oil spill on an economically and ecologically important fish species in the Arctic: Geir Morten Skeie, Akvaplan-niva pdf
  • Case study treatment of Oil Spill Response Limited's approach to building credible cold weather capability: Paul Foley, Operations Manager, Oil Spill Response Limited pdf
  • TBD: Jens Peter Holst-Andersen, Emergency Prevention, Preparedness and Response (EPPR) pdf



Arctic Coast Bioremediation (The first "small" results of a "big" project)

Vladimir Myazin, Institute of North Industrial Ecology Problems, Kola Science Centre of Russian Academy of Science

The Arctic ecoregion draws a picture of an area with extraordinary biodiversity values. Among its most spectacular features are the world’s highest density of migratory seabirds, some of the richest fisheries in the world, and diverse and rare communities of sea mammals. While these resources have supported human communities for centuries, growth and expansion of infrastructure, industrial activity and resource exploitation is increasingly threatening to undermine the very basis for biological diversity and production in the ecoregion. The increase in global demand for oil and gas has led to the expansion of the oil and hydrocarbon industry and transport activities in the region. A large oil spill is estimated as one of the biggest threats to the Arctic environment. There is a generally recognized risk of oil spills at all stages of exploration, production and transportation of oil. And the strengthening of shipping along the Northern Sea Route is another negative factor in the risk profile of oil spills in the region. In general, coastal ecosystems remain largely affected by direct discharges of oil from offshore activities and illegal discharges from ships. All mechanical, thermal and chemical methods currently used for cleanup of the coastal zone from oil contamination, are expensive and relatively unefficient. As a result, the entire ecosystem experiences the negative effects for years and even decades, depending on the scale of the spill. To solve this problem, researchers from three countries (Russia, Norway and Finland) are developing a biotechnological method of remediation of contaminated areas. The biotechnological approach, based on natural processes of self-healing in the environment, is currently the most promising method for reclamation of oil-contaminated soils from both an economic and an environmental point of view. Our project aims at developing an innovative tool for combating the adverse effects of pollution. The main output of the project is a biotechnology for comprehensive remediation of oil-contaminated marine coastal areas in the Arctic which will be a more efficient and eco-friendly solution in comparison with the existing methods. The technology is based on three components: oil-degrading microbial inoculants, sorbents and plants. Microbial inoculants will be obtained by enriching the most efficient oil-oxidizing microorganisms (bacteria, fungi, algae) from the environmental samples of the studied area. The development of the proposed biotechnology will help preserve the natural wealth of a prosperous but fragile Arctic ecoregion for future generations.


Ecosystem modelling as a tool to assess the impact of a major oil spill on an economically and ecologically important fish species in the Arctic

Geir Morten Skeie, Akvaplan-niva

The ecological and commercial impacts of accidental oil spills are a concern in all maritime regions, including the Arctic. Assessing the impact of such oil spills is an important basis for ecosystem management plans and strategies, as well as for environmental risk and mitigation assessments related to exploration and production activities. As field experiments with release of significant amounts of oil in the environment are neither desirable nor practicable, ecosystem modelling, applying the best scientific knowledge and hypotheses is the most feasible way to assess risks. In the SYMBIOSES project, ecosystem models developed, used and tested by Norwegian research institutes were combined in a computational framework. Within this, oil release scenarios and subsequent three dimensional spreading, fate and drift of oil were linked to models for growth and distribution of copepods, as well as models for drift and feeding of fish larvae, and with several threshold values for toxicity of hydrocarbon components. Our target species was the North-East Arctic Cod. Effects of oil on early life stages (eggs and larvae) were simulated for several years and a number of spill scenarios, providing estimates of effects on recruitment to the adult stock. Also, effects of oil on food for young cod were assessed. Effects of reduced recruitment on the standing stock over a 10 year period were assessed with the same model applied in the setting of fishing quotas. The SYMBIOSES approach will provide input to ecosystem based management plans for Arctic sea areas in Norway, and an extension of the research program, addressing another commercially important species is currently under planning. In our presentation, we present this modelling approach in detail and show results.

Like us on Facebook
Follow us on Twitter
Subscribe to our YouTube Channel
Join our LinkedIn Group
Check us out on Google+
Follow Us on Instagam
Follow Us on Flickr