Falklands : Falkland Islands Offshore Hydrocarbons Environmental Forum Synopsis of Forum meeting
Submitted by Falkland Islands News Network (Juanita Brock) 07.04.2013 (Article Archived on 21.04.2013)
The forth meeting of the Falkland Islands Offshore Hydrocarbons Environmental Forum took place on 7th March in the Chamber of Commerce. The Forum comprises representatives of the oil industry, By Phyl Rendell
Falkland Islands Offshore Hydrocarbons Environmental Forum
Synopsis of Forum meeting
By Phyl Rendell
The forth meeting of the Falkland Islands Offshore
Hydrocarbons Environmental Forum took place on 7th March in the Chamber of Commerce.
The Forum comprises representatives of the oil industry, environmental
organisations and relevant Falkland Islands Government departments. The Forum meets to provide a means for
structured formal and informal consultation on proposed and ongoing hydrocarbon
exploration and production activities that may affect the natural environment
in and around the Falkland Islands.
The meeting largely focussed on the work undertaken by a
data gap analysis group which was formed on the advice of previous meetings of
the Forum to consider gaps in environmental data and current knowledge with
relevance to the hydrocarbons industry.
Rockhopper Exploration Sea Lion Area Environmental Baseline
Andy Duffy gave an overview on the recent Environmental
Baseline Surveys undertaken in the Sea Lion Development area of the North
Falklands Basin. He advised that the
final report is nearly complete and will be circulated shortly. Headlines from the report include the post
drilling analysis of the 1998 wells which show minimal contamination, metals
and hydrocarbons levels in the area.
Marine Mammal Observer and Seabird Observer observation figures are
consistent with previous surveys.
Acoustic monitoring results have been gathered from the first 4 months
of the year-long study. Six whale
species have been identified to date and recordings of several whale species
were played in the meeting.
Falkland Oil and Gas Limited (FOGL) 2012 South Falklands drilling
programme and Marine Mammal and Seabird Observations
Richard Clarke gave a presentation on FOGLs Leiv Eriksson
exploration campaign which was completed in late 2012. He reported on the successful drilling of two
wells, the Scotia East D well and the Loligo A well. Richard noted the excellent health safety and
environment record during drilling, with OSRL training provided to all crew
members, no adverse environmental or health impacts, and all hazardous waste
being shipped to the UK for disposal. Richard gave an update on the current 3D
seismic work being undertaken in their acreage.
He noted the hand over to Noble Energy of the northern part of the FOGL
licences in March 2013.
Grant Munro gave a presentation on the marine mammal and
seabird observations he undertook for FOGL during their recent exploration
phase. Regarding the seabird surveys
undertaken he outlined the radial count methodology used, the number of species
and seabird sightings made and compared these results to previous surveys. Concerning the MMO results he noted the
methodology employed, the number of species recorded and the number of animals
and sightings. Grant will provide a
final report with observations and conclusions regarding possible associations
with the drill rig.
It was pointed out that observations from vessels do not
provide 100% coverage and some species, such as penguins, can easily be
overlooked or missed altogether.
Gap Analysis Headline Results and funding options
Paul Brickle introduced the gap analysis work undertaken to
date and noted that the final gap analysis reports would be circulated shortly
and that any comments would be welcomed.
Anton Wolfaardt presented the priorities within seabird data
gaps. He outlined the highest priority
as the need to assess existing data in a level 1 Ecological Risk Assessment
(ERA) for Falklandís waters. Anton also
highlighted the need to assess the impacts of light attraction to rigs and
support vessels. After a discussion on
data analysis Anton noted that penguin species are the most vulnerable species
and the hardest to assess. He also noted
that increased tracking work will be required at a range of sites to begin to
understand seabird foraging habits on a broad scale.
Grant Munro presented priorities regarding marine
mammals. He highlighted the need to
reassess existing JNCC and observer data on cetacean and pinnipeds in Falklands
waters. He also noted the need to standardise
observer protocols as well as reviewing seismic Marine Mammal Observer
protocols. He also endorsed existing
opportunistic surveys on oil exploration vessels.
Paul Brickle presented priorities related to
oceanography. He highlighted as high
priority the need for fine scale hydrographic data to allow for improved sub-surface
monitoring. As a medium priority Paul
identified the need to review oceanographic data collected by the oil and
fishing industries. A low priority was
to ascertain the risks of sub-lethal persistent oil releases.
Paul Brewin presented priorities regarding benthic inshore
and offshore research gaps. He
identified as a high priority the review of previous data from benthic surveys
and Environmental Impact Assessments. He
suggested this could be the subject of a one year MSc. A student might be identified through the
SAERI. Medium priorities comprise
on-going monitoring and post-drilling analysis.
Lower priority was attached to the development of an inshore management
plan including a risk assessment of habitats and species.
Paul Brickle concluded the session by noting the importance
attached to better curation and use of existing environmental data. The newly formed SAERI information management
centre was identified as a suitable repository for data.
It was noted by Paul Brickle that the data gap priorities
have been now been established, and a mechanism for funding this work needs to
be agreed. There was a discussion on
this subject and it was noted that FIG should contribute as well as oil
companies. It was noted that this will
be discussed at the next Forum meeting in September or sooner.
Chair thanked the gap analysis group for all their hard
work. She noted that Anton Wolfaardt
leaves the Falklands in June and will not be present at the next meeting, and
thanked him for his hard work considering data gaps regarding seabird
Temporary Port: expressions of interest tender
Ken Humphrey of Premier Oil introduced this item. He pointed out that an expressions of
interest tender has been circulated calling for contractor bids to construct a
temporary port facility. He noted that
in order for Premier Oil to develop the Sea Lion field within their current
timings they will require a temporary port facility, as FIPASS is not fit for
purpose and the FIG deep water port will not be online for several years. Premier Oil plan to submit an outline
planning application later this year.
This will be supported by an Environmental and Social Impact Assessment
(ESIA) scoping report, which will comprise a desktop and preliminary physical
baseline assessment of the impacts of the development. This will be followed by a full application
for planning permission supported by a full ESIA to be submitted by the
contractor which will include a full baseline assessment of impacts related to
Pipe Bundle production onshore facility
Ken Humphrey introduced this item and Martyn Witton gave a
presentation on pipe bundle technology.
He outlined the complexities of the technology and introduced the
requirements associated with an onshore development of this kind. He noted that Premierís preference is to
develop a pipe bundle facility onshore the Falkland Islands. Current technology does allow for the towing
of pipes up to 1000km. He noted the
development would require roughly 6km of relatively flat land, comprising a 20
metre wide runway and track which would be stone-filled. The facility requires a gentle beach with
shallow protected waters where vessels access the pipe and subsequently tow
this to site. Also required are access
roads and potentially a work camp. A
facility of this type would likely employ between 100 and 120 workers and would
mostly comprise temporary workers. The
facility would be constructed at the beginning of the Sea Lion development,
with a one year construction phase. The
facility would likely be required for 2 years before decommissioning.
Chair responded to the presentation that she believed there
had been a commitment by FIG and industry to minimise the amount of onshore
development associated with an oil industry in the Falklands. Chair also noted that this development was
not identified in the Plexus Socio-Economic Report regarding the scenarios
concerning the Sea Lion Development.