Published: , Updated:
- Marianne Henriksen

Testing clean-up preparedness off Svalbard

A recent planning conference has set objectives for an oil spill response exercise planned by the Norwegian Coastal Administration (NCA) in cooperation with the governor of Svalbard.

This Svalbard Exercise 2016 is due to take place on 27-29 September, with attention concentrated on the risk of acute oil pollution in the Isfjorden area of the Arctic archipelago. The scenario will be a spill from a grounded ship.


“We’ve so far been spared serious incidents which involve cleaning up acute pollution in the Arctic,” explains Johan Marius Ly, the NCA’s director of emergency preparedness.

   “If an accident occurs off Svalbard, the problems will be different from those faced further south. So it’s important to stage an exercise here to identify possible challenges.

   “Darkness, cold, ice, logistical difficulties and the lack of surveillance and communication opportunities represent key issues in these waters.”

   The exercise will be a cooperative effort at the strategic, operational and tactical levels, and is due to be implemented as a combined field and staff operation.

Read also: Nobody can cope on their own

   Completed by the NCA in 2014, the emergency preparedness analysis for Svalbard and the Arctic island of Jan Mayen recommended a major exercise based on one of its analysis scenarios.

   “On that basis, it’s appropriate to stage a major exercise around Svalbard in 2016,” says Ly.

Objectives for the exercise

Svalbard Exercise 2016 will concentrate on such aspects as notification procedures and the NCA assuming command of an incident response in Svalbard.

   Other concerns include interaction with the governor of Svalbard in all phases of the response, and effective response leadership and on-site command.

   Also in focus are collaboration between government and private emergency response resources, logistics operations, and identifying possible improvements to existing plans and equipment.

   The exercise will be planned and executed in close collaboration with Svalbard’s administration, reports Police Chief Superintendent Jon Starheimsæter, chief of staff to the governor.

   “It’s important for us to test applicable plans, our own capacities in the shape of depot forces, helicopter resources and service vessels.

   “That also applies to response times and durability, and not least to the collaboration mechanisms incorporated in our existing plans.”

   He adds that lessons from the exercise will occupy a key place in the future development of emergency preparedness for pollution in the islands.


A number of other partners will participate in the exercise with equipment and/or personnel resources.

The following agencies have been invited to take part.

  • —   NCA
  • —   Governor of Svalbard
  • —   Joint armed forces headquarters (FOH)
  • —   Norwegian Coast Guard
  • —   Joint rescue coordination centre (JRCC)
  • —   Norwegian Maritime Authority
  • —   Norwegian Environment Agency
  • —   Norwegian Polar Institute
  • —   Norwegian Clean Seas Association for Operating Companies(Nofo)
  • —   Shipping companies
  • —   Insurance companies
  •    The following vessels are due to participate in the exercise.
  • —   Polarsyssel
  • —   KV Barentshav
  • —   OV Bøkfjord
  • —   Elling Carlsen
  • —   Longyear 2
  • —   Ulla Rinman
  • —   Farm
  • —   State-owned tug
  • —   RV Lance
  • —   Simulated wreck
  •    Aerial/surveillance resources.
  • —   LN-KYV (NCA’s surveillance aircraft)
  • —   Helicopter from the governor
  • —   Ocean Eye (Nofo balloon)

Latest news