AT-333 Arctic Petroleum: Challenges for Society, Technology, and Environment (10 ECTS)

AB-201 sampling, August 2013. Photo: Steve Coulson/UNIS

Course schedule

24 June 2019
29 July 2019
Autumn semester (June–July), annually.
10 ECTS with AT-833
Letter grade (A through F)
The course material will include the lectures and a selection of scientific articles given by the lecturers.
NOK 400–600 (2–3 days x NOK 200 per overnight stay)
10/20 students (AT-333/AT-833 in total)
Bilingual dictionary between English and mother tongue
15 February 2019

Course responsible: Perrine Geraudie

UNIS contact person: Arne Aalberg

Course requirements:

Enrolment in a relevant master programme. The course is interdisciplinary, and is open to students from various fields of study (technology, biology, environment and geology).

Academic content:

The course has the objective to provide important general knowledge of some of the most important fields of sciences dealing with petroleum exploration and operations in the Arctic, from especially an environmental perspective. The course will cover general knowledge within ocean governance and petroleum industry dynamics, petroleum geology and geophysics, risk management, surveillance and oil spill emergency response as well as chemical weathering and impacts on Arctic ecosystems.
More specifically the course will cover:

  • Petroleum industry dynamics and evolution; High North developments; integrated ocean governance
  • Introduction to petroleum geology and geophysics including the definition of specific terms and introduction to exploration and play concepts
  • Barents Sea oil and gas fields as well as discoveries on the Russian side and pan-Arctic overview
  • Sustainable exploitation, pressure handling for no drilling hazards, natural seeps and pockmarks and importance of site survey
  • principles of risk assessment and management (environmental, occupational, technological, and operational risk)
  • surveillance and remote sensing (satellite vs. airplane vs. unmanned planes), synthetic aperture radar principles and applications including oil spill detection and characterisation
  • oil spill response (Norwegian system and international law and cooperation)
  • oil spill history and contingency methods
  • oil composition and properties, oil spill weathering (on open water and in ice) and modeling of weathering processes
  • Introduction to Arctic ecosystems (biological oceanography, pelagic, benthic and sympagic ecosystems)
  • Environmental impact of the petroleum industry (both seismic activities, operational and accidental discharges)
  • Environmental monitoring related to the petroleum industry

Learning outcomes:

Upon completing the course, the students will have:

  • A general knowledge of the integrated ocean governance and petroleum industry dynamics and evolution in the High North.
  • General knowledge of petroleum geology and geophysics including the definition of important terms, an introduction to exploration and play concepts, a pan-Arctic overview of existing field and new discoveries and some concepts related to sustainable exploitation.
  • Knowledge of the interdisciplinary nature of risk assessment and management linked to the petroleum industry including the implications of uncertainty for the assessment and management of environmental, operational and technological risks.
  • Overview of surveillance systems/remote sensing (satellite, airplane, unmanned plates) and relevant satellite sensors.
  • Knowledge of Synthetic aperture radar principles, data analysis, sea-ice, ocean wave, wind and current applications and SAR for oil spill detection and characterisation.
  • Knowledge about oil spill preparedness and remediation.
  • Knowledge of weathering processes of oil and environmental effects in relation to Arctic ecosystems, including basic ecological knowledge of Arctic ecosystems and their characteristics (seasonal variations, spring bloom, polar night).
  • Knowledge of the laboratory methods used to characterize the oil properties in relation to spills.
  • Knowledge of environmental monitoring guidelines and methods.

Upon completing the course, the students will be able to:

  • Perform a holistic risk assessment of a specific industry activity in the Arctic and suggest risk mitigation and reduction strategies.
  • Collect data during fieldwork, perform chemical analyses and interpret results.
  • Use the SINTEF Oil Weathering Model to predict the fate and behaviour of an oil spill.
  • Assess and consider measures to reduce damage from an oil spill, and suggest appropriate and effective methods for collecting oil / handling of the spill.

General competences
Upon completing the course, the students will:

  • Have a broad and interdisciplinary overview of petroleum sciences, to increase awareness of field of sciences closely linked to the student´s own specialization. By providing future scientists and engineers with the “big picture”, this course is an important preparation for professional careers in petroleum sciences, both for the academic and private sectors.
  • Be able to integrate and apply knowledge from different fields of sciences to reflect on common challenges and answer new questions encountered during studies and professional life.
  • Be able to reflect analytically and critically on their own and others’ scientific work.
  • Be able to work autonomously and in group.
  • Be able to search and update knowledge in general.
  • Be able to communicate and synthetize knowledge orally and in written form.

Learning activities:

The course extends over a period of 6 weeks including compulsory safety training, and is run in combination with AT-833.

The course is organized in lectures, seminars, field and laboratory work. The fieldwork (2–3 days) will consist in a sample collection from an old oil spill located in Svea. The samples will be analyzed with gas chromatography at UNIS. The student will also have a group work to carry out a generic risk analysis, based on a chosen topic that will be presented in class. All assignments (fieldwork, experiment, risk characterization, etc.) will be compiled in a technical report organized in chapters and including an overarching introductory essay.

Students will be given relevant literature to study and prepare seminars to discuss specific questions.

Total lecture hours: 50 hours.
Student seminars: 20 hours.
Excursions / fieldwork: 2–3 days.
Laboratory work: 25 hours.
Work on reports: 5 days.

Compulsory learning activities:

Excursions / fieldwork and lab work.
All compulsory learning activities must be approved in order to sit the exam.


Method Duration Percentage of final grade
Written technical report 40%
Written exam 4 hours 60%

All assessments must be passed in order to pass the course.
Each assessment is graded, and subsequently combined into a single grade. Partial grades for each assessment will be available.

Application deadline: 15 February 2019

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