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Holistic Approach to Reduction in the Environmental Footprint of Arctic Offshore Seismic Surveys

Philip M. Fontana and Peter Zickerman
Polarcus DMCC, Dubai, United Arab Emirates.

As attention is focused upon the discovery and exploitation of petroleum resources in offshore Arctic regions, all phases of the E&P process will be highly scrutinized for potential negative environmental impacts.

It is safe to assert that seismic surveys will be a mandatory tool required to help find potential plays and in assessing the commercial viability of production and development of those plays. As one of the first steps in the exploration process, seismic surveys have traditionally attracted a great deal of scrutiny in terms of potential environmental impacts. This will be especially true in Arctic areas.

Whether the surveys are 2D, 3D, or 4D the most cost and time efficient survey methods will entail the use of towed streamers. This method of seismic acquisition has three main technology components that can produce solid, fluid, gaseous, and sonic emissions that can be considered as having potential negative impacts on the surrounding marine environment. These three components consist of the survey vessel, the seismic sound source, and the towed streamers. The various types of emissions generated from each of these components can be identified and methods put into place to either eliminate or minimize the cumulative output of each type of emission and in turn minimize the overall environmental impact of any particular seismic survey.

This paper will look at the various types of emissions generated during the course of a seismic survey and will demonstrate how the use of recent developments in seismic survey ship design and seismic acquisition technologies can allow a holistic approach to containing, neutralizing, and/or minimizing the release of solid, fluid, gaseous, and sonic emissions during the course of a seismic survey. Such an approach can help set a positive impression for how following E&P activities are viewed and regulated.


AAPG Search and Discover Article #90096©2009 AAPG 3-P Arctic Conference and Exhibition, Moscow, Russia