ارزیابی ریسک نامناسب - بررسی سناریوهای بدترین حالت مربوط به بهره برداری از نفت در منطقه لافتن
|کد مقاله||سال انتشار||مقاله انگلیسی||ترجمه فارسی||تعداد کلمات|
|20481||2014||8 صفحه PDF||سفارش دهید||7180 کلمه|
Publisher : Elsevier - Science Direct (الزویر - ساینس دایرکت)
Journal : Marine Policy, Volume 44, February 2014, Pages 82–89
Heated debates are currently taking place on whether to open the area of Lofoten and Vesterålen in Northern Norway for petroleum production. Seismic explorations in this area have indicated promising petroleum resources. The area is known for its unique landscape and as a key spawning and nursery area for several economically important fish species. It hosts significant bird colonies and the world's largest-known deep-sea coral reef. New areas will be opened to petroleum production only if its high environmental value can be maintained. A risk analysis approach has become central to this decision, where the probability of a ‘worst-case scenario’ (a major oil spill) is assessed together with associated environmental impacts. This paper examines and characterises uncertainties associated with these risk assessments and some of the surrounding debates. Further, the paper reveals implications of these uncertainties: (1) potential values embedded in the risk assessments, (2) lack of validity of quantified worst-case scenarios and their probabilities and impacts, (3) limited prospects of filling addressed knowledge gaps and (4) how risk assessments restrict the debate on what issues and uncertainties are considered relevant. Taken together, this suggests that discussions on alternative approaches to decision making should be more prominent in public and political debates.
The question of opening Norway's northern offshore areas for petroleum production has been a long and heated political debate. The values at stake are considerable. On one hand, petroleum production promises to underpin Norway's economic wealth and people's standard of living, both locally and nationally. On the other hand, petroleum production, and in particular a major oil spill in the area off the Lofoten and Vesterålen islands and Senja (from now on referred to as the ‘Lofoten area’), is feared to have the potential to significantly disturb and alter vulnerable ecosystems and thereby damage fisheries and tourism in the area. Large areas in Norwegian waters have been opened to petroleum exploitation since the first oil field was discovered in 1971. Some areas still remain closed, as the northernmost area of the Barents Sea and the Lofoten area. The closure of these areas was a result of political processes where the importance of ecological factors such as biodiversity and biological production played a central role. The Lofoten area holds some of the worlds' largest fish stocks  and bird colonies  and . To ‘open’ an area means that the area is earmarked for potential oil exploitation and that petroleum companies can apply for production licenses. Before an area is opened, an impact assessment of the petroleum activities is required, including risks of pollution . One of the standard elements of such risk assessments is to define a ‘worst-case scenario’, which is a major blowout with a specific duration, rate, oil type, location and probability, supplemented by an assessment of the associated environmental impacts. The quality and legitimacy of the produced worst-case scenarios are at the centre of political debates, reflected in newspaper headlines. In “Misleading picture of risks”  the Ministry of Environment criticises the petroleum sector's chosen sites for assessing potential blowouts, claiming that these sites are further away from the shore than the promising petroleum fields. The article “Refuses catastrophe scenario”  exposes a disagreement between petroleum authorities and environmental and fisheries’ authorities on the relevance of simulating the effect of a Deepwater Horizon sized oil spill in the Lofoten area, an oil spill three times the size of the established worst-case scenario. The impact assessments of a worst-case scenario have also shown to be controversial. In the article “Accused of sabotaging the oil debate” , marine scientists are accused of taking a political position when advising against opening the Lofoten area to petroleum production, since scientific evidence suggests that the potential harm is insignificant. Also, a marine scientist is pilloried for stating that the probability of destroying a whole yearclass of cod larvae in case of a major oil spill lies between 0 and 100% . In addition, the scientists were criticised for applying safety factors to each component when quantifying impacts instead of applying this to the final outcome, arguing that the risks become highly exaggerated . Also in the academic literature, different views are expressed on the production of knowledge related to this policy issue. Hjermann et al.  point to specific knowledge gaps that need to be filled concerning the impact of an oil spill on environmental and ecological processes. Still, they argue that stochastic processes make the predictions of long-term effects impossible to achieve. Knol  acknowledges that there is a substantial uncertainty, but questions the usefulness of ‘filling knowledge gaps' because it is unclear how filling such gaps will support decision-making. She further argues that natural science has dominated the process on assessing risks and that the process would have benefitted from rather being attentive to social issues and concerns . It has long been argued that policy problems characterised by high stakes, uncertain facts and conflicting values, need to place uncertainty in science at the centre of the debates (see for example , , , ,  and ). Uncertainty makes different interpretations possible, and values may be embedded in the knowledge production. The choice of scope of an investigation, the choice of method and presentation of results can favour one policy outcome over another. The aim of this paper is to examine key uncertainties associated with defining the risk assessment of a worst-case scenario for the Lofoten area and to discuss how they affect the relevance of such assessments. It starts by presenting some historical background on the development of worst-case scenarios for petroleum production in Norwegian waters together with management policies to help us understand the situation on risk assessments today. The paper then seeks to characterise main uncertainties related to the worst-case scenario in the Lofoten area concerning: (i) the estimated probability and characteristics of a worst-case scenario and (ii) the modelled impacts of such an oil spill. In parallel, the paper shows how uncertainty has allowed different interpretations of ‘facts’ among experts. Uncertainties are further discussed whether they can be reduced and/or resolved, and whether values are embedded in the knowledge production. In light of the discussed uncertainties and the narrow scope of discussed environmental impacts of a blowout, the paper finally questions the relevance and role of risk assessments based on the worst-case scenarios: what kind of public debate and decision-making are they able to support?