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§ 52 General requirements to environmental monitoring

The operator shall monitor the external environment, cf. the Framework Regulations Section 48.
The monitoring shall be adapted to the existing pollution risk, be able to prove and map pollution of the external environment, and indicate development trends in the environmental condition.
The environmental monitoring of pollution from regular emissions and discharges shall include both benthic habitats (the sediments, soft and hard sea bed fauna) and the water column, and shall be performed and reported in accordance with the Guidelines for environmental monitoring of the petroleum activities offshore (M-300) (in Norwegian only).
The operators shall cooperate on monitoring.
Personnel with monitoring functions shall at all times be able to efficiently gather and process information from monitoring.
The operators shall, as part of the external monitoring, contribute to developing new methods for monitoring sediments, benthic fauna and water column.
The Norwegian Environment Agency and the Norwegian Radiation and Nuclear Safety Authority can, in special cases, set additional requirements for monitoring beyond the prevailing guidelines.
Section last changed: 01 February 2019

Chapter X contains supplementary provisions on how to monitor the external environment. The term operator is defined in the Framework Regulations Section 6: Anyone executing on behalf of the licensee the day to day management of the petroleum activities.
Environmental monitoring of the Norwegian continental shelf includes both monitoring of benthic habitats (sediments, soft and hard benthic fauna) and monitoring of the water column. The purpose of the environmental monitoring offshore is to achieve:
  1. an overview and control of pollution and impacts on the external environmental from the petroleum activities
  2. an overview of the general condition and development around the individual facilities and in the regions (trends).
The results from the monitoring shall provide factual data based information that can be used as a basis for necessary actions to be taken on the continental shelf. The results from the monitoring can also be used for:
  1. assessments of the risk for environmental damage and ecological effects
  2. verification of models for calculating environmental risk as a function of the existing and expected discharges from the offshore activities
  3. verification of laboratory research
  4. preparation of reports in accordance with national administration plans, including environmental indicators.
In addition, the results can be reported in accordance with international treaties; to OSPAR, for instance.
Results from completed environmental monitoring, baseline surveys and impact assessments for field development will, together with an overview of discharges, form the basis for planning and implementation of further environmental monitoring. In order to obtain an optimum description of the conditions around the individual facilities and in the region, it is important that the monitoring programmes are designed in light of the existing discharge situation. This means that the operators in the planning stage shall consider and include relevant pollution components in the monitoring programme, as necessary, based on what is discharged on the individual field and in the region. Such an evaluation requires that the monitoring, annual reporting in accordance with the Management Regulations Section 34 c and defined challenges from the Environmental Impact Assessments be seen as a whole.
The cooperation requirement as mentioned in the third subsection, entails that several operators cooperate so that the monitoring activities are managed in relation to regional risk, and arrangements are made for using the best available technology (BAT). The requirement relating to cooperation also entails that there shall be agreements between operators that have partly or completely identical areas of impact for pollution from their own activities. It is vital that the monitoring is conducted in accordance with a defined framework to ensure comparable results between years, and between different regions. The Guidelines for environmental monitoring of the petroleum activities offshore (in Norwegian only) will provide the operators with a template for a standardised way of carrying out the surveys, thus making it possible to compare results from year to year and between various regions. The guidelines cover the most important surveys that all operators shall carry out, and the operators themselves shall decide whether there is need for additional or other surveys on the individual field or in the region. Any deviations from the standard station grid that have been used in previous surveys or given in the guidelines, shall be justified in the programmes for the environmental surveys.
For monitoring and control relating to proper implementation as regards health and safety, see Section 31.
It may also be relevant to monitor areas in the beach zone and onshore if these areas are affected by the petroleum activities.
The Norwegian Environment Agency and the Norwegian Radiation and Nuclear Safety Authority may, as for the other operator activities, audit the environmental monitoring in their areas. This applies to all stages of the activities, from planning of the surveys through to the various operators’ internal use of the results.
Plans for and results from monitoring of the external environment shall be reported to the Norwegian Environment Authority, and to the Norwegian Radiation and Nuclear Safety Authority for radioactivity, in accordance with Section 34 of the Management Regulations.