A measure of ‘environmental happiness’: Infrastructuring environmental risk in oil and gas offshore operations
Journal article, Peer reviewed
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Original versionScience & Technology Studies 2016, 29(1):30-51
We know little about the marine environment, particularly in the inhospitable Arctic region. Whereas national authorities often rely on the construction of a solid knowledge base to allow human activity access to new areas, scientists point to the impossibility of building comprehensive knowledge of subsea ecosystems. This paper presents an ethnographic study of a Norwegian oil and gas company’s development of a knowledge infrastructure for measuring the long-term trend of the behaviour of the marine environment, i.e. a baseline to be used as a reference to calculate potential risks in a commercially relevant Arctic area. The company’s infrastructuring mechanisms involve selecting and configuring environmental sensing technologies, and tying them into the fabric of the company’s operational analysis routines. We identify and discuss how these mechanisms address and articulate temporal, spatial, and social tensions and how, in so doing, they mould new representations of environmental risk.