The main vision of ARCEx is to reduce risk connected to petroleum activitities in the Arctic. To carry out the research, a consortium consisting of 9 academic partners, 6 user partners, and one partner from the authorities has been constructed. About 230 peer reviewed publications have been published so far, and some of the activities have received prestigious awards from scientific organizations and journals. The results from the centre are used in various ways by partners and society: (1) the geological research is used by our partners to increase the precision when assessing the geological setting and conditions. (2) the environmental risk assessment is used to suggest reasonable response scenario in case of an unwanted spill, and (3) the technological research is geared towards developing eco-friendly exploration and imaging techniques. ARCEx has been a geographically distributed centre, with high-quality researcher training taking place at all academic partners. There has been a high focus on educating master students, and we have documented a large number of graduates who have received their training through ARCEx. The centre structure has implied extensive collaboration across disciplines and across geographical distances.
ARCEx has served as a coordinator for high-north oriented research in Norway since its inception. As such, several new projects that have been initiated by user partners and academic partners have been organized as side projects to ARCEx. In that respect, ARCEx has played a role for the R&D and innovation strategiers of the partners. In addition, for the smaller companies in the consortium, ARCEx has to some extent served as their de facto R&D department.
The research activities in environmental risk assessment are in many ways “license to operate” for Arctic operations. The user partners have collaborated extensively through WP3, and the summary of this research are concrete best practices that will be implemented by our partners. This can be regarded as positive both for the environment and for the society.
Much of the research that has been carried out in ARCEx can be regarded as basic research. The unique collaboration between academia and user partners ensures that the knowledge base is strengthened, and that the activities are research based.
The networks among user partners and academia has been vastly strengthened. This may lead the industry to achieve improved access to relevant competence and research personnel. Also, the collaboration may play a role for the recruitment of qualified and highly skilled personnel who have completed their research training.
ARCEx has shaped both the education and the research of the host institution. New master specializations in petroleum geology and ecotoxicology have been established, and numerous new courses have been initiated. The research program of ARCEx has paved the way to a much deeper understanding of petroleum systems at UiT, and it has strengthened and expanded the research in ecotoxicology.
There are several examples of reduced fragmentation and new national collaboration as a consequence of ARCEx. E.g., the unique master/PhD-level course AG-335/835 "Arctic seismic exploration" is being taught at UNIS with teaching personnel from four of the academic ARCEx partners (UiB, UiO, NTNU, UiT), and with financial support from an industry consortium. It is highly competitive to become a student in AG-335, with close to 100 students applying for the 20 available seats. The Norwegian universities have a reserved quota of students that are allowed to attend the course, so this is an excellent way to offer students a collaborative course that does not have a counterpart at any of the mainland universities.
Another example is iEarth, which is a Centre for Excellence in Education (SFU). This centre is a consortium comprised of UiB (host), UiO, UNIS, and UiT. ARCEx personnel have been central in developing iEarth, and the goal is to improve educational quality in the geosciences, and to employ collaborative means to offer courses to several universities simultaneously.
The Research Centre for Arctic Petroleum Exploration (ARCEx) addresses key cross- and multi-disciplinary challenges in petroleum research and development in the Arctic. The overarching research goal for ARCEx is to reduce risk. This can be further broken down for the three main pillars (geology, environment, technology) as follows: the geological research activity aims to reduce the risk for not finding petroleum, the environmental research activity aims to reduce the operational risk, and the technological research activity aims to reduce the risk for inaccurate and incorrect measurements and analysis. Thus, the research activities in the three research pillars are highly intertwined and interconnected, providing a collective, coordinated and coherent approach to solve the overarching research goal of ARCEx in a holistic manner. We have identified a set of critical knowledge gaps that the scientific activity of ARCEx contribute significantly to. These are: (i) When and how did the sedimentary basins of this region form and how did this link to deeper structures, (ii) When and how deep was the maximum burial for the different organic rich intervals of the Barents Sea sedimentary succession?, (iii) How do Arctic key species respond to anthropogenic activity, (v) What is the baseline ecology in the Barents Sea?, and (vi) Which explorational constraints maximize data quality and minimize environmental impact? ARCEx has a national role as a coordinator for Arctic petroleum research, and it serves as an integrator between academia (6 universities and 4 research institutes), industry (6 petroleum and energy companies), and authorities. We train and educate a large number of Master, PhD, and postdoctoral candidates, providing a new generation of experts that can shape the future of Norwegian petroleum research. Dept. of Geosciences at UiT The Arctic University of Tromsø serves as the host institution, and the day-to-day management is handled by a multi-disciplinary group of experts from several of the participating academic institutions.