The sound is emitted from an acoustic source that is towed below the water behind the seismic vessel. Near the acoustic source, from meters to tens of meters, the sound intensity is such that animals – in particular marine mammals – may sustain injury if present. At greater distances, however, there is no risk of direct injury, but the sound may still affect animals by being a nuisance that can lead to changes in their behavior or make their communication difficult.
There is also a risk that our activities interfere with local communities and indigenous people that rely on local biodiversity for their sustenance and livelihood. Without careful planning upfront and dialogue during a survey, there may be actual or potential risks such as displacing local fisheries from their catch grounds, damaging fishing equipment, disturbing fish spawning, or disturbing the breeding or migration of whales. A seismic survey is by nature a transient activity. The sound source is constantly moving and the underwater sound exposure ceases upon completion of a project.
We exercise care and consider the potential impacts on marine life and habitats when we plan our work. We always use a gradual increase of intensity when we activate the source (soft-start) to allow marine life to move further away. Where required we have protocols to shut down the acoustic source if a marine mammal is spotted within a certain perimeter (typically 500 m). We are committed to respecting the rights and interests of local communities and indigenous people. Our goal is to have zero conflicts with fisheries and local communities. Where project locations are near fishing grounds, spawning grounds, breeding grounds, or migration routes we are generally required to undergo a rigorous process of impact assessments and consultations with local communities, fisheries, and indigenous people before we are granted a permit to do our work. In the absence of regulatory requirements, we ensure that these matters are addressed in our Project Risk Assessments for the area with appropriate mitigations implemented in our Project Plans.
Where we operate in or near areas of importance to local communities, fisheries, and/or indigenous people we strive to ensure transparent and timely dialogue at an early stage in the project development. This allows planning for time or area restrictions in our work, establishes good communication lines between all parties allows us to account for local knowledge about the area in our planning. Equally important is to maintain this transparent and timely dialogue during the project and upon completion to ensure we can adjust our plans as we progress and capture relevant learnings at the end.
Our goal is to conduct seismic surveys with minimal acoustic impact and maximum efficiency. The less time it takes to complete a survey, the less acoustic exposure in the area in total. Our longstanding and sustained investments in modern vessels and seismic technology have resulted in less downtime during production, fewer gaps in the seismic data coverage that needs to be re-acquired, and less standby for weather and currents.
We support the Energeo Alliance ‘Ghost-net Initiative’ and have implemented robust protocols for the removal and responsible disposal of abandoned fishing gear and marine debris that we encounter while conducting our work.
In 2021, there have been no reported incidents of injury to marine life or habitats or significant conflicts with local communities, fisheries, or indigenous people. All projects have been conducted in compliance with applicable regulations, protocols and agreed mitigation measures. In total, we removed more than 15 tons of abandoned fishing gear and marine debris during the year.
Actions, Progress, and Plans
- Goal: Minimal acoustic impact with maximum efficiency in acquisition projects
In 2021 we put sustained focus on careful planning, operational efficiency, and minimal downtime. In 2022 we will evaluate novel survey designs and configurations that increase efficiency.
- Goal: Zero conflicts with fisheries, local communities, and/or indigenous people.
In 2021, we ensured robust planning, communication, and management of local fisheries in areas of potential conflict. In 2022, we will evaluate the use of drones, AUVs, and sonars to aid in scouting and monitoring fishing activity and fishing gear in the area.
- Goal: Support the ‘Ghost-Net Initiative’
In 2021 we removed more than 15 tons of abandoned fishing gear and marine debris during our surveys. In 2022 we plan to ensure regular reporting of marine debris removal to the EnerGeoAlliance ‘Ghost-Net Initiative’.