«The elephant in the room – benzene in drilling mud» is a presentation of benzene exposure when working with drilling mud. Benzene is naturally occurring in oil and gas reservoirs. When drilling in reservoirs, the drilling mud will be heavily contaminated with benzene, which will degas on the surface. This type of exposure has been met with silence by the Norwegian oil industry.
The major effect of benzene from long-term exposure is on the blood (long-term exposure means exposure of a year or more). Benzene causes harmful effects on the bone marrow and can cause a decrease in the red blood cells, leading to anemia. It can also cause excessive bleeding and can affect the immune system, increasing the chance for infection.
Halvor Erikstein is a member of the government-appointed Commission Compensation Oil Pioneers.