We present results of monitoring studies on emergent coral reefs and submerged shoals, two potentially sensitive seabed habitats found within range of the modeled hydrocarbon plume from the 2009 Montara uncontrolled release in the Timor Sea.
Divers conducted reef surveys 6 and 16 months after the release was stopped. Hydrocarbons were detected in surface carbonate sediments at very low levels and declined between the two surveys in both frequency of occurrence and concentration. While hydrocarbon degradation precluded source matching, some samples were consistent with a Montara type oil, but there was also evidence for multiple sources of hydrocarbons in the region. Coral and fish communities were in good condition and potential indicators of disturbance in some elements, for example moderate levels of coral bleaching observed in 2010, were related to unusually warm sea surface temperatures rather than distance from the well head platform or plume.
The submerged shoals component targeted a series of nine discrete shoals ~30-150 km from Montara well head platform. The shoals have abrupt bathymetric profiles rising from 100-200 m depths to within 15-36 m of the sea surface. Sufficient light reaches these plateau environments to support benthic habitats for primary producers, including algae, corals and seagrass. Sampling used remotely deployed cameras and grabs.Benthic and fish communities were diverse and shared many species with shallow coral reefs. Hydrocarbon contamination was measured around the base of the shoals. While there was no conclusive evidence of a impact from the spill, spatial patterns in a subset of the fish data showed a reduction in abundance and diversity at shoals closest to the well head. Similarly a marked reduction in seagrass was noted on one shoal closest to the well head platform in the period between surveys, 6-16 months after the release was stopped. These observations may reflect an influence from the hydrocarbon release but could equally be the result of natural spatial patterns and disturbance events in the region.
Overall, the lack of sufficient prior data characterizing the region, especially for the shoals, constrained insights into any effect or otherwise of the spill and reinforces the need for regional scale baseline data. These surveys make a significant contribution and an excellent starting point for baseline characterization of the broader suite of emergent reefs and submerged shoal habitats in the Browse Basin.
As part of the Devil Creek Development Project, Apache successfully used horizontal directional drilling (HDD) with a delayed break out as the installation method for the shoreline crossing of a new gas pipeline at Gnoorea Point, 45 km southwest of Dampier, Western Australia to achieve excellent environmental and social outcomes.
Technical, environmental and community engagement challenges included an HDD reach distance of 1.85 km, a delayed break out technique, hard complex and variable geological strata, the HDD exit point in shallow water (6 m) and surrounded by benthic habitats consisting of corals, seagrass and macroalgae within a Marine Conservation Reserve, stringent regulatory requirements and the onshore drilling location directly adjacent to a heavily used camping area and a public boat ramp with adjacent beach.
To achieve minimal disturbance to the marine environment and social amenity of the surroundings, an extensive and innovative marine monitoring programme was used in combination with an intensive community engagement programme. The techniques used for this project have application to oil and gas activities involving stringent regulatory requirements, sensitive marine environments and proximity to public amenities.
Results, Observations and Conclusions
Mapping of the drilling fluid showed a small area of the seabed that was affected. Some small, unplanned areas of leakage of drilling fluid onto the seabed were also identified and the leaks remediated: these leakages occupied only a very small area of the seabed. Apache were required to demonstrate that HDD activities resulted in no more than 0.5% loss of seagrass, macroalgae and coral based upon losses predicted from mapping, modeling suspended sediment concentrations in the water column and sedimentation rates on the seabed based on drilling fluid discharge rates and applying conservative coral health threshold criteria to discharge model outputs to predict zones of impact to benthic habitats. An extensive marine monitoring programme, sampling before and after HDD, using high definition video camera to capture photoquadrats conclusively demonstrated that losses were significantly less than predicted and permitted.
Drilling operations were a 24 hour activity and located directly adjacent to a popular camp site and boat ramp. Apache engaged with the community before and during the HDD activity and no complaints were received from the users of the area during operations.
Significance of the Subject Matter
Provides an example of industry's ability to operate successfully in sensitive marine environments and close proximity to communities.
This paper describes a novel instrumental technique using astronomical cameras modified to monitor the whole-of-sky light emissions visible to marine turtles nesting near industrial developments in Western Australia. The results provide quantitative and qualitative data on specific light sources including sky glow which cannot be otherwise be measured in a field setting. The quantitative and qualitative results provide environmental practitioners and managers with the first reliable tool with which to monitor light emissions. This instrumental method has application well beyond marine turtles and can be used to measure and monitor light in any setting and for any receptor (wildlife or human) exposed to light, either astral or artificial.
The Santos Health & Well Being program has been running since 2006. Integrated with a range of proactive human resource initiatives implemented over a number of years and guided by Santos values, significant improvements in health related indicators as well as improvements in human resource outcomes have been achieved. These results are built on a foundation of leadership development, employee engagement, targeted interventions and a range of Santos policies that support and focus on people development and encouraging healthy environments across the business.
Overview of Santos
Santos is an Australian energy pioneer that has operated since 1954 and is one of the country's leading gas producers, supplying Australian and Asian customers. The company today is the largest producer of natural gas to the Australian domestic market, supplying 16% of the nation's gas needs from remote outback operations in South Australia and Queensland and offshore operations in Western Australia and Victoria. Santos has also developed major oil and liquids businesses in Australia and operates in all mainland Australian states and the Northern Territory. In addition to it's Australian businesses, Santos has significant operations in Indonesia and Bangladesh, is developing it's business in Vietnam and is conducting exploration activities in Central Asia.
From this base, Santos is pursuing a transformational liquefied natural gas (LNG) strategy with interests in four exciting LNG projects. This strategy is led by the cornerstone GLNG project in Queensland - a leading project in converting coal seam gas into LNG. Also in Santos' LNG portfolio are the PNG LNG project, which was formally approved in December 2009, Bonaparte LNG, a proposed floating LNG project in the Timor Sea, and Darwin LNG, Santos' first LNG venture, which began production in 2006.
In 2011, Santos' total production was 47.2 million barrels of oil equivalent. We have the largest Australian exploration and production portfolio by area of any company circa 152,000 square kilometres. Santos has about 2,700 employees working across its operations in Australia and Asia and is one of Australia's Top 30 listed companies.
An Integrated Approach
The Santos health programme is aligned with the company's values and the broader HR strategy. Such an integrated approach has enabled Santos to develop its organisational culture and achieve broader people related outcomes which support and sustain the business achieve its long term goals.
Marine Bio-Security is a global concern with significant relevance to the off-shore gas and oil production and exploration sector. An avalanche of legislation and regulation is delivering enforceable laws which compel ship owners/operators to adopt prescriptive procedures, protocols and practices to ensure that ballast water is eliminated, or at least substantially reduced as a major vector for the translocation of non-indigenous marine pests (NIMPS). The other main vector for the translocation of NIMPS has been identified as the wetted hull of commercial and military shipping and includes offshore support vessels, mobile offshore drilling units, crew transfer vessels, barges, landing craft and pipe laying vessels. Hull bio-fouling and associated niche areas are presently under the scientific microscope...and will follow the same path in terms of legislation and regulation.
In late 2011 the Queensland State Government of Australia declared the Cooper Creek Basin in South West Queensland to be a Wild River Area under the Wild River Act 2005. The Wild River Area covers a significant proportion of Santos' current tenements and future development interests in the area.
The Wild Rivers Declaration is a highly prescriptive regulatory regime that sets out significant restrictions which would detrimentally impact on existing operations and future oil and gas development opportunities, including emerging coal seam and shale gas prospects in the proposed declaration area. It includes general prohibitions on certain activities across extensive areas of channel country and the imposition of setbacks for activities in proximity to watercourses.
The issue first arose in late 2010 when the Queensland Government indicated its intent to declare the Cooper Creek Basin as a Wild River through its issue of a Declaration Proposal. During the 12 month consultation period that followed, Santos engaged with the Queensland Government regulators and Ministers to assist the Government to make a Wild Rivers Declaration that achieves a balance between protecting the natural values of the Cooper Creek and allowing the continuation of the sustainable development of the petroleum resources within the Cooper and Eromanga Basins.
The paper will provide insight into Santos' experience in taking a lead role in responding to the significant new legislative regime proposed by Government. Key insights include the need for industry tobe proactive and take a role in educating the Government on the industry's operations andthe changes required to ensure compliance with the new regulatory requirements. It will also discuss broadlythe challenges associated with the changing regulatory environment including the role that politics can play and observes that we should continue to expect a ‘Wild' ride whenparticipating in thelegislative developmentprocess.
The significance of the Declaration is that the restrictions for petroleum activities imposed in the Cooper Creek Basin Wild Rivers Declaration may be imposed upon all Wild Rivers areas in Queensland. In addition, other Australian state governments are watching the implementation of Wild Rivers' legislation in Queensland and are considering the need for similar regulatory regimes in their jurisdictions.
The paper will consider the implementation of the
safety case in the oil and gas industry internationally post -Macondo and Montara.
The National Commission Report into the Deepwater Horizon / Macondo blowout stated:
"The immediate causes of the Macondo well blowout … …. that reveal such systematic failures in risk management that they place in doubt the safety culture of the entire industry. "
In their letter to Minister Ferguson on 22 March 2011, the NOPSA Board stated:
"The Montara and Macondo incidents each demonstrate technical ignorance and a poor safety culture including complacency regarding low probability, high consequence risks. There is a clear need to improve industry safety culture, accountability and leadership."
The paper will examine these criticisms and consider how the industry
needs to improve its process safety and risk management. The implementation of a safety case in the USA may only occur "in the typical rule-making process that takes up to two years" (Michael Bromwich, Director of BOEMRE). Knowledge, understanding and application of key aspects of process safety management and the safety case process are not uniform. The paper will suggest how, in this context, the safety case can be applied to achieve the required outcomes.
The paper will draw from specific findings from the Macondo and Montara incidents.
There are echoes of Piper Alpha in the performance of emergency systems on Deepwater Horizon. The inadequate application of hazardous area classification is a key issue which the paper will examine in order to provide greater understanding. Whilst in Australia, issues of consistency and quality arise with matters such as performance standards. The paper will discuss the need for a standard for "performance standards" that goes beyond current regulatory guidelines.
Overall, the paper will seek to propose a way forward for the industry in several practical areas.
Streever, Bill (BP) | Ellison, William T. (Marine Acoustics, Inc.) | Frankel, Adam S. (Marine Acoustics, Inc.) | Racca, Roberto (Jasco Applied Sciences) | Angliss, Robyn (Alaska Fisheries Science Center, NMFS/NOAA) | Clark, Christopher (Cornell University) | Fleishman, Erica (University of California) | Guerra, Melania (Cornell University) | Leu, Matthias (The College of William and Mary) | Oliveira, Shirley (North Slope Borough) | Sformo, Todd (SEA, Inc.) | Southall, Brandon (North Slope Borough) | Suydam, Robert
Most assessments of multiple, interacting, and/or repeated anthropogenic underwater sounds (sometimes considered to be an aspect of cumulative effects assessment) rely on narrative descriptions rather than systematic evaluations. In 2010, recognizing the need to better understand the potential effects of multiple sound sources (such as vessels, drilling rigs, pile drivers and seismic operations), British Petroleum (BP) sponsored the University of California to convene an expert committee tasked with advancing a method of systematic evaluation. The method developed by the committee (1) identifies the species, region, and period to be assessed, (2) compiles data on relevant sound sources for that region and period, (3) models the acoustic footprint of those sources, (4) models the movement of simulated marine mammals (animats) through the acoustic footprint, and (5) aggregates data on sound exposure and movements for each of the simulated animals. The method was applied to a test case or trial loosely based on data from the Alaskan Beaufort Sea during a period of seismic exploration and other activities. Substantial additional work is needed to better define output metrics related to degradation of acoustic habitat and to understand the potential effects of multiple sound sources on individuals and populations. Nevertheless, the method provides a starting point that will lead to improved understanding of the implications of multiple underwater sound sources associated with industrial activities.
Technology is now available for real-time Industrial Hygiene monitoring of activities in locations such as offshore facilities, with viewing of the data remotely. The use of this technology can result in a more dynamic approach to hazard control, where the data being collected can be interpreted and control barriers altered in line with the results of monitoring. The data review can take place onshore by Industrial Hygiene specialists without the need to fly offshore. Encrypted data is transmitted via the internet for viewing onshore. No work on this application of real-time monitoring has been published previously. This innovative technology is being trailed by Shell in Australia in what is believed to be a world first.
Real-time personal monitoring equipment is available for monitoring of compounds such as VOC (Volatile Organic Compounds), benzene, heat stress, radiation and dust. The application of this type of monitoring is extremely useful in a dynamic environment such as offshore exploration drilling or during commissioning of new offshore facilities. In these environments there is limited opportunity for specialist resources such as Industrial Hygienists to be present offshore as operationally, manning levels are at their maximum during these periods.
The use of real-time monitoring with remote review by Industrial Hygiene specialist makes it possible to monitor unique, uncommon, or unplanned maintenance tasks that would otherwise be very difficult to capture.
This paper will provide results and conclusions from the trial of this technology during the refit of an LNG Tanker in Singapore and will describe how this technology may be implemented in remote facilities such as Shell's Prelude FLNG facility. The paper will also discuss likely advances in this technology over the next few years.
In May 2011 Shell announced its commitment to the development of a Floating Liquefied Natural Gas (FLNG) concept by taking the Financial Investment Decision on the Prelude FLNG Project. Prelude is located in Australian offshore waters, approximately 475 km north-northeast of Broome and 825 km west of Darwin, and will be Shell's and possibly the world's first FLNG development. FLNG offers a number of environmental advantages over traditional onshore LNG developments. This paper describes some of these and the associated environmental permitting/approval conditions for the project.