"The Arctic is not a monolithic area and the risk picture varies accordingly. Stakeholders therefore need a sound decision basis for understanding the risks associated with Arctic development and transportation," said Børre Paaske, project manager at DNV GL – Oil & Gas.
"The DNV GL Arctic Risk Map can help facilitate transparent discussions to address the many dilemmas related to activity in the region."
The map includes multiple dimensions, such as the seasonal distribution of ice, metocean (physical environment) conditions, sea-ice concentrations, biological assets, shipping traffic and oil and gas resources, in a single layout.
It also includes a Safety and Operability Index, showing variation in different factors that impact the risk level depending on the season and their location in the Arctic.
In addition, a location- and season-specific index has been developed showing the environmental vulnerability of marine resources with respect to oil spills as an external stressor.
In general, DNV GL says that its analysis shows that the Arctic environment is characterised by seasonal variations in vulnerability, and that this vulnerability increases in the summer months along with the level of industrial activity.
However, this differs greatly between regions. Some areas, for example, are particularly vulnerable in winter, when they are used by birds for wintering or as spawning grounds for fish.
As a result, DNV GL says that the consequences of an accident in the Arctic would likely be more severe in some areas than others, and that this new map can act as a useful tool in identifying regions that require special attention when it comes to planning activities and for imposing mitigation measures throughout the year.
"The risk level in the Arctic must be equivalent to – or better than – the best performance in the industry today,” said Elisabeth Tørstad, CEO of Oil & Gas, DNV GL.
"The Arctic’s varied and complex conditions require the industry to take a stepwise approach in which learning and technology are developed progressively regarding the more challenging Arctic areas."
"As an independent body, DNV GL takes an active role in ensuring that any increase in industrial activity has a strong focus on safeguarding life, property and the environment. This Arctic Risk Map is a great example of our vision in action."