Setting Standards for Chronic Oil Discharges in the North Sea

Fischer, D.W. & von Winterfeldt, D. (1978). Setting Standards for Chronic Oil Discharges in the North Sea. IIASA Research Memorandum. IIASA, Laxenburg, Austria: RM-78-005

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Public attention has frequently been directed to the large accidental oil spills connected with tanker groundings or breakups and platform blowouts. The operational oil discharges connected with offshore production platforms could, however, have equally severe effects in the offshore environment because the pollution occurs day after day as long as the activities that produce it continue to operate. This study is concerned with such discharges in the North Sea.

The study focused on the central actors involved in the standard-setting process for operational or chronic discharges. Each key actor was interviewed in depth to determine their perceptions of the problem, the role of other actors, the alternatives considered and the interactions among actors. This decision-making complex thus includes a variety of decision-making units with varying abilities to influence the outcomes of the standards. Regulator, developer and environmental expert actors formed the basic focus for this effort.

The objectives of the regulators and developers are described along with the alternative regulations, treatments and uses of the environment that are considered. Then a comparison and evaluation of the decision process by which Norwegian and U.K. regulators arrived at discharge standards is made.

Major findings include the near similarity of the standards set even though the approaches to such standards are perceived to be quite different in each country. Another finding is that entrepreneurial endeavor for oil discharge treatment equipment is a key parameter in deciding on standards since both countries must rely on such effort for what is available. Lack of information on the effects of oil in the sea is another finding along with a minimal role for environmental quality factors in setting standards. Such findings make it difficult to trace trade-offs in the selection process for standard setting. Finally, some suggestions for improvements in this process are noted.

Item Type: Monograph (IIASA Research Memorandum)
Research Programs: Management and Technology Area (MMT)
Depositing User: IIASA Import
Date Deposited: 15 Jan 2016 01:45
Last Modified: 27 Aug 2021 17:09

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