Greenland’s largest oil importer prepares to deal with oil spills

Published: 23-06-2014

Polaroil has returned to the classroom to learn how to manage oil spills, and the lessons learned will be beneficial for both the environment and the piggy bank

”We need an oil tanker, the fire department, a ship, a rubber dinghy and 300 meters of barrier tape…”

NIRAS just hosted Greenland’s first course on oil spill response techniques for the country’s largest – and only – oil importer, Polaroil, which imports, handles and sells more than 250,000 million litres of oil annually.

The course was followed by an exercise that simulated an 80,000-litre oil spill. Because oil spills actually do occur. Recently, the oil importer experienced a leakage from a tank containing 2000 litres of gas oil. In situations like these, the challenge is to manage the spill in the best possible way.

Immediate action is crucial

To better meet this challenge, Polaroil has asked NIRAS to tailor and hold courses on how to best manage acute oil spills on land.

”Inevitably, spills will occur. What is important is that you are prepared when it happens and ready to act as quickly as possible,” says Peter Henriksen from NIRAS, who is a geologist with more than 15 years of experience in working with environmental issues in Greenland.

Peter Henriksen is an instructor on the course, and it is his experience that you can limit the contamination significantly if you deal with oil spills quickly and in the right manner. This way, the oil is simply easier to collect and spreads less, which will benefit both the environment and the piggy bank.

A customised course 

The challenge for NIRAS was that Polaroil was not looking for a stock item, instead they wanted a course that would be completely tailored to the conditions in Greenland.

”I based the course on the ’Manual for handling oil spills, prevention of oil spills, and handling of previous contaminations,’ which NIRAS Greenland developed for the Greenlandic home rule in 2008,” says Peter Henriksen.

The result is a 7-hour long course with exercises and course material that contain examples and photos from Greenland.

Reducing oil spill

The first class on the course was made up of part of the management group and tank superintendents from Polaroil. Energy Director, Tage Lindegaard, is pleased with the output:

”The course means that, if all employees participate, we are able to limit damages in relation to oil spills. It is difficult to explain this in exact numbers, as all oil spills are different, but the mistakes made on the pitch are better avoided if you practise,” he says and continues:

”Polaroil operates in a vulnerable artic environment along Greenland’s coasts. Contaminations will harm us on our livelihoods and the environment can only be restored slowly. Protecting the environment is of crucial importance, and just one less oil spill is of great value to us.”

In Greenlandic as well

Polaroil runs a total of 69 works distributed among 16 tank installations located in cities, and 52 tank installations in rural settlements. NIRAS hopes that this will keep the course going continuously.

“We are ready for it – in Greenlandic as well,” says Peter Henriksen.

Contact info

Peter HenriksenProject managerAarhusDenmarkT: +45 8732 3285E: Send E-mail
Further contact info

NIRAS Greenland

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