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Environment

The environment on Svalbard is very sensitive for pollution, spill, and impacts on the tundra. This was given high fo-

cus during the planning of well activities. All equipment was located beside each other, next to the well, on pre-made 

gravel pads. Material to absorb any spill of diesel, hydraulic and engine oil was present on location. The pump itself 

contains a drip pan so any potential spill within the pump will be collected. During an injection test in 2011 there was 

a hose that become loose and leaked 50-60 liter with gear oil. All the oil was collected in the drip pan and removed 

without any spill on the ground/tundra.

The last 3-4 years all water used for well tests is fresh drinking water, transported to the location with tank trucks. To 
avoid freezing and the creation of ice plugs sea salt has been added in smaller amounts to the water.

During the drilling of well DH7a there was a minor hydraulic leakage due to problems in the hydraulic package on the 
drilling rig. This resulted in a small amount of hydraulic oil that was spilt on the gravel. The oil spill was cleaned up after 
the rig was removed. 

There were no other spills of oil, diesel or chemicals on the tundra or the ground around the gravel pads around the 
wells caused by well activities. When connecting the water hose to the tank trucks there was always a small amount 
of fresh water in the hose, but that was drained away. 

Some of the earlier tests were with water from the nearby river. All equipment installed at the river (pump, cables, 
hoses and the raft arrangement) was hand carried to the river. By hand carrying the equipment, a minimum of marks 
were made in the sensitive tundra. 

During the drilling and testing operation usage of a forklift truck was required to handle drill-pipe, core samples, 
equipment etc. The forklift used during the 2012 activities was much bigger and heavier than previous years. This 
forklift made some impacts around the well park area. This issue has been addressed and will be fixed when the ac-
tivities have been finalized.  

In 2011 at the start of the injection test program rabies was present in the Longyearbyen area – several polar-foxes 
and several reindeer had rabies. UNIS provided update and information about this health issues on a daily basis. No 
animal with rabies was observed at the test location. 

In 2013 when moving the pump equipment from well DH4 to well DH7a the crane became stuck just beside well DH6 
when placed into position. Some heavy equipment/machinery was utilized to free it. This caused marks and a hole in 
the ground where the crane had been stuck. This was fixed immediately when the heavy equipment was removed. The 
result of the repair was acceptable. 
 
In 2014, during the 2nd cement plug in the well DH5R, a burst/parted WL46 work string caused cement spill. To avoid 
the cement from hardening inside the lines, mixing and pump unit; 1200 litres of cement slurry was dumped on the 
gravel around the well DH5R. This was reported to UNIS and it was later inspected. The cement pool was not consid-
ered an environmental issue. When the well DH5R is permanently plugged, the gravel around the well will be removed 
along with the cement.

Safety 

Most of the activities have been “stand alone” operations, either there has been testing activities with pumping 
equipment or drilling operating with the drilling rig. For some cement operations and P&A operations there have 
been a few simultaneous activities between the drilling rig and the pumping equipment. Simultaneous activities re-
quire very good communications, detailed program and procedures. The risk level is also increased for simultaneous 
operations. These risk levels have been identified in the risk matrix.

Due to the local risk of polar bears there were rifles and signal pistols present at the location at all times. All drill staff 
had shooting practices/ polar bear course from UNIS. First aid kits were also supplied and available at the location. 
Emergency numbers were issued during in the pre-job meetings.

At later stages in the operation, 3 wells experience 26 bar gas pressure at the surface. The gas is natural gas where 
the main component is methane. There were no traces of any toxic gases as H2S, SO2, or CO2.     Gas detection equip-
ment was on location and the well was shut in with valve and gas tight equipment. The gas was bled off in a controlled 
manner when required through the flare/vent line. Risk reducing actions (example - all usage of open fire was strictly 
forbidden) were implemented for the well activities in wells that contained gas. As the wells are located in an open 
area there was ventilation to the air and there was always a wind passing through the well location. This together 
minimized the likelihood of accumulating larger concentrations of the gas.

After the gas

 

fire incident (see Appendix) it was implemented to have firefighting equipment easy available on the rig 

and location. Signs were erected informing all usage of open fire including smoking was strictly forbidden.

Another safety issue due to the arctic environment is the permafrost. The permafrost has several times caused cre-
ation of ice plugs in the wells. These plugs were removed by pumping hot water through a plastic hose. There is a 
concern about the risk of pressure build up below the ice plugs. When breaking through the plug water can flow/ 
“shoot” back if there is pressure underneath. This risk was discussed each time an ice plug  was removed. Using safety 
glasses was mandatory together avoiding standing directly over the well. No pressure was recorded below any of the 
ice plugs. 

In 2013 there was a smaller incident when lifting a big bag with cement. The big bags have incorporate lifting-ears of 
fibre-strap. A large forklift from LNSS was used to do the lifting of the big bag. The fibre lifting pad/strap on the big 
bag snapped and the big bag fell approximately 1,5 m to the ground. All personnel were at a safe distance and there 
was no equipment nearby. The big bag busted when it hit the ground. This incident was reported to Baker Hughes who 
had supplied the big bag.