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§ 54 Environmental monitoring of benthic habitats

Plans for environmental monitoring of benthic habitats (sediments, soft and hard sea bed fauna) shall be prepared in accordance with the Guidelines for environmental monitoring of the petroleum activities offshore (M-300) (in Norwegian only).
Studies in the individual region shall, as a rule, be carried out every three years. The surveys alternate between regions. The scope of monitoring shall be related to the shelf activity in the individual regions. Monitoring of new activity is in addition to, and shall be adapted to, existing monitoring.
The samples from the regional and field-specific stations shall be collected on the same trip. The regional stations shall describe the general background levels in the area for the examined components, and function as references to an expected normal condition. The field-specific stations shall provide information on the condition surrounding the individual facilities in the regions.
Studies shall provide information on both the vertical and horizontal spread of relevant parameters.
The Norwegian Environment Agency can, in special cases, order other types of environmental surveys, and studies in other parts of the influence area, than those described in the Guidelines for environmental monitoring of the petroleum activities offshore (M-300) (in Norwegian only).
Section last changed: 01 January 2016

As a whole, the monitoring of the benthic habitats shall contribute to explaining whether a station or a larger area around the individual facility or in a region is affected by discharges from the activities. The results from the environmental monitoring shall be such that they can be used to check the conclusions of the impact assessment (IA) for the individual field and for the region. The relation between IA, actual discharges and environmental monitoring shall be emphasised.
A normal frequency for environmental monitoring is every three years. The guidelines may allow for a lower frequency, based on pollution loads, history and regional knowledge.
Since 1997, Norway has used the terms “reference stations” and “regional stations” in connection with monitoring of the seabed on the Norwegian continental shelf. Both types of stations normally cover the background level of selected components in the area, and the reference stations can, in given instances, function as regional stations and vice versa. Reference stations and regional stations in one and the same region are used to estimate background levels in the regions.
The term reference stations is now discontinued, and all non-field-specific stations are called regional stations in the new Guidelines for environmental monitoring of the petroleum activities offshore (in Norwegian only).
Plans for environmental monitoring of the benthic habitats shall be submitted to the Norwegian Environment Authority in accordance with Section 34 of the Management Regulations.