Offshore Eastern Canada and Norwegian Barents Sea
Pioneering iceberg hazard research
ExxonMobil’s Arctic research program has included significant work to characterize the hazards associated with icebergs. In 1984, we led the large-scale iceberg strength test program in Pond Inlet, located on Baffin Island in far northeast Canada.
Between 1981 and 1985, ExxonMobil studied more than 700 icebergs in the Grand Banks, located offshore Newfoundland and Labrador, using both aerial photography and underwater profiling to determine iceberg drift velocity, size and mass distributions. These data were released to the research community and formed the core of the iceberg database developed by Canadian scientists from Memorial University of Newfoundland, the Canadian Hydraulics Center and the Centre for Cold Ocean Resources Engineering (C-CORE) in the late 1990s.
In 1988, ExxonMobil drilled the most northern offshore well at the time in the iceberg-prone Norwegian Barents Sea with a Mobile Offshore Drilling Unit. To better understand and quantify iceberg hazards in this area, we established the Ice Data Acquisition Program (IDAP) in conjunction with the Norwegian Polar Institute and the Russian Arctic and Antarctic Research Institute. ExxonMobil coordinated the IDAP from 1988 to 1994, surveying more than 330 icebergs during those years.
ExxonMobil participated in the 1995 Grappling Island iceberg impact test program to measure iceberg impact loads. Icebergs ranging from 200 to 1,000 tons were towed into a segmented ice load panel attached to a nearly vertical cliff on Grappling Island.
In June 2001, offshore Newfoundland and Labrador, ExxonMobil participated in an iceberg impact field program in which the Canadian Coast Guard icebreaker Terry Fox was equipped with a novel ice load panel that measured vessel motion during iceberg impact.