Woman getting off an oil tanker
During the first course in 2014, an allocated oil tanker was used in the drills.

Oil spill course in Greenland

Tailored courses reduces the risk of oil spills in Greenland

Employees at the Greenlandic company Polaroil learn how to intervene correct in the event of an oil spill. Tailored courses reduce the risk of polluting the pristine environment.

Greenland is a beautiful, but also a harsh and unpredictable country with mind-blowing distances. The pristine Arctic environment is extremely vulnerable to pollution.

Hence, speed and knowledge is paramount whenever and wherever an oil spill happen. With this in mind, the Greenlandic oil import company, Polaroil, asked NIRAS Greenland to design and develop a set of specific courses for its employees with focus on correct action in the event of an oil spill.

Through instructions, lectures and practical drills performed under realistic conditions in Greenland, the workers improve their abilities to react swiftly to oil spills - in close collaboration with local authorities.

Every year Polaroil handles 250 million liters of oil. The oil is imported and then distributed to villages and settlements throughout the country.

The company's installations ranges from a large import facility to several small tank installations situated in tiny settlements and in different climatic zones.

For the Greenlandic community the primary benefit is a reduced risk of polluting the Arctic environment.

Over the recent years Polaroil has made the risk of oil pollution the epicenter of its business. This is in part due to increased requirements from authorities and general rising climatic concerns in Greenland.

The large distances and very low population density of Greenland mean that Polaroil, in many cases, will need to handle an oil spill by itself. The different local emergency management agencies can easily be occupied at other locations or simply be too far away from a given pollution area to be able to react in time.

Thus, the courses developed by NIRAS Greenland aims at preventing the oil from scattering, commence the cleanup, and use whatever equipment is available at the specific site.

The course is designed specifically to Arctic conditions including information about how oil scatters in snow, in areas with permafrost and on rocks. Given the extreme environment in Greenland the compendium uses only local examples.

Through the course Polaroil employees learn not only to be better prepared for an oil spill, they also gain detailed information about technical installations, crucial knowledge about maintenance and how to reduce leaks from the various oil installations.

Polaroil employees reduce leaks from the oil installations.

For the Greenlandic community the primary benefit is a reduced risk of polluting the Arctic environment.

NIRAS Greenland has extensive knowledge about Greenland and draws upon experts within the consulting company. This includes in-depth insight into emergency planning and contact with local authorities.


  • Polaroil is a subsidiary of KNI A/S.
  • KNI is 100 pct. owned by the Self-Government of Greenland and dates back to 1774.
  • The first tank facility was built in i Aasiaat in 1948. The year after followed installations in Qaqortoq, Nuuk og Sisimiut.