Talking to Óluva R. Eidesgaard and Jana Ólavsdóttir, both Geologists at Jarðfeingi. The Faroese Geological Survey (Jarðfeingi) is an institution under the Ministry of Industry. The purpose of Jarðfeingi is to administer, do research, consult and teach about geological nature values.

Jarðfeingi is responsible for all administrative tasks related to hydrocarbon exploration and production activities in the Faroe Islands.

Óluva is one of the ambassadors of Visit Faroe Islands, and during a chat we had at the event, she told me about working on a water project to secure water supplies on the islands for the future – which seemed strange to me, considering the climate on the Faroe Islands. It seems there is enough rain to last for ever, but it is not that simple….

Actually the task for the team at Jarðfeingi is searching for oil – there are obvious indications that oil reserves might be located in the sea around the Faroe Islands, and the big oil companies have spent years and lots of money to find those spots – so far without success. There is no oil production in the Faroe Islands – 95 % of national income is from fishery – the rest is from tourism and other industries.

The geologists explain that the conditions in the volcanic and basaltic grounds on and around the islands are difficult to research, however the presence of oil seems obvious from other signs, e.g. hydrocarbon seep data. Presently most of the energy used on the islands comes from (imported) oil and the government aims to shift more and more into green energy. Wind energy is already used, and the findings of hot water in shallow geothermal boreholes allow further exploration about how to use the heat for additional energy production. The plan is to cool down hot water and use the energy for heating houses. The remaining cool water could thereafter be used as excellent drinking water supply for the people.

Since the oil industry largely gave up the search in 2014, Jarðfeingi started to work on the subject with the target to continue the search to find other resources from the earth – both offshore as well as onshore.  Large amount of water have also been found when drilling tunnels or deep-sea tunnels between the islands- which led to the Jarðfeingi Water Project, about onshore mapping with regards to groundwater and geothermal energy.

“Mapping onshore is something we consistently are working with. Now the focus lies on mapping of fractures, layer boundaries and reservoirs (volcaniclastic and tuff layers). This is in order to explore the possibilities to utilize groundwater and geothermal energy onshore. This work will contribute to making the Faroe Islands more sustainable regarding renewable energy and provision of clean water to both citizens and industry.”

explain the geologists.

The  shallow geothermal water holes are privately owned, but the excessive water belongs to the communities, for example Kollafjørður, where a major water hole has been found.

Presently most of the drinking water on the Faroe Islands is won from rain water with a random use of spring water, water holes found during tunnel or coal drilling. But the quality of the groundwater has been discovered to be better than the one of rainwater and it also has a higher PH Value. The rain water is kept in tanks or basins and is filtered for the use in households and public buildings. Sometimes in summer problems with the supply of rainwater can occur  – there can be some occasional lack of rain and also some bacterial pollution can happen during warm periods which then needs to be treated with chemicals.  The groundwater shall provide security of water supply for the future.

Conferences around the Geological Aspects at the Faroe Islands have been held in the past, one being the Faroe Islands Exploration Conferences (FIEC), which was held in 2004, 2007, 2009 and 2012 and the Jóannes Rasmussen Conference (JRC), which was held in 2007 and 2015 on the Faroe Islands

Abstract of the 2015 conference is available for download

The aim is to repeat the JRC and share knowledge on geosciences, especially about volcanology among those interested in the Northeast Atlantic Region. The conference has been named after Jóannes Rasmussen (1912-1992), who may be considered as the father of geological science in the Faroe Islands.

More interesting reading about the subject on the website of Jarðfeingi


And in the magazine Geo ExPro, the favourite petroleum geoscience magazine



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