Drilling in the Arctic dark. Photo: Rosneft.ru

Northern Lights disturb Arctic oil drillers

The precision of drilling instruments can be seriously affected by the Arctic light phenomenon, new research from the University of Tromsø reveals.
March 09, 2016

The Aurora Borealis shines magically over the Arctic sky these days. However, for some people the northern light means not only Arctic beauty, but also trouble at work.

The PhD thesis of Inge Edvardsen, a student at the University of Tromsø, concludes that the northern lights pose a major challenge for the Arctic oil industry. According to Edvardsen, the magnetic sensors, which help control the direction of the drilling instruments, are affected in areas with much northern lights. That increases the likelihood on imprecise drilling, the researcher finds, a press release from the University of Tromsø reads.

The further north, the more imprecise the drilling, the research publication states. 

In order to better cope with the challenge, Edvaldsen proposes to install measurement instruments on the sea bottom, as an addition to current land-based measurement stations.