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§ 55 Environmental monitoring of the water column

Plans for environmental monitoring of the water column shall be prepared in accordance with the Guidelines for environmental monitoring of the petroleum activities offshore (M-300) (in Norwegian only), and shall be submitted to the Norwegian Environment Agency by 1 April of the year the monitoring will be carried out.
The water column monitoring shall consist of monitoring in the field. The scope of the monitoring shall, as a minimum, include fish and mussel, and shall be carried out every three years. The monitoring shall document whether marine organisms from Norwegian waters are affected by pollution from the petroleum activities.
The period between two field-monitoring activities shall be used for further development and qualification of methods for future water column monitoring.
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

The environmental monitoring of the water column is carried out so that possible effects from the discharges of the petroleum activities on the pelagic environment, can be documented. The requirement on monitoring of the water column is not limited to monitoring of produced water, but also comprises relevant added chemicals and leakage and leaks from the seabed, plus other relevant discharges, if any.
The frequency of monitoring in the field is every three years. The monitoring should include hydrographical measurements, chemical measurements and monitoring of organisms in cages and free-living organisms. The scope of the monitoring must be discussed with the Norwegian Environment Agency.
There are currently few internationally accepted standardised methods for monitoring of biological effects in the water column. A number of methods are, however, under development, and many have been tested in the field. This primarily applies to various biomarkers which are being used more and more for monitoring impact and, gradually, for monitoring condition. Still, measurement of concentration levels in selected organisms will see further use in the environmental monitoring around petroleum facilities on the Norwegian continental shelf. The operators shall participate actively in the testing and development of suitable methods for environmental monitoring. The period between two monitoring activities in the field shall be used, hence, to develop and qualify new methods. The Norwegian Environment Agency should be consulted on significant items during the process, by presenting progress and plans for the coming year in an annual planning meeting as outlined in the Guidelines for environmental monitoring of the petroleum activities offshore (in Norwegian only).
As the monitoring is still at the stage of methods being developed and tested, the guidelines will be regularly revised. As soon as suitable methods for monitoring the effects of long-term discharge impact will be established, a selection of these shall be used in a more standardised programme.
Plans for environmental monitoring of the water column shall be submitted to the Norwegian Environment Authority in accordance with Section 34 of the Management Regulations.