Environment and Safety
- Following acceptance of The Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) by the Bahamas Environment, Science and Technology (BEST) Commission and publication on the Commission’s website (http://ww.best.bs/index.html), the Company has continued its environmental studies required ahead of the drilling of a well. These studies are extensive and have formed the basis for considerable community engagement meetings throughout the Bahamas including the ‘Family Islands’.
- As continued preparation for an Environmental Management Plan and having completed preliminary ‘worst case discharge’ calculations in the prior year, an Oil Spill Response Plan has been completed.
- A study of the surface and shallow subsurface conditions around potential drill sites, completed by Geoscience Earth and Marine Services (‘GEMS’) identified no potential drilling hazards and led to ‘Site Clearance Letters’ being issued. The Company has however investigated further additional likely drill sites.
- Interpretation of the multibeam survey collected over a portion of the southern Licences. This has been further utilised to identify potential sinkholes, gas and oil seeps to the surface and into the seabed.
- The Company, as part of its environmental management plan, has collected detailed data through consultation with local islanders, scientific experts, local fishermen, government agencies, local environmental non-governmental organisations and local research organisations highlighting critical and natural wildlife communities, their activities and habitats all to be combined into Environmental Sensitivity Maps. Showing such things as the turtle nesting beaches, blue holes, important birding areas, coral reefs, sea grass beds and wetlands etc., generation of comparative indices is depicted on a series of Environmental Sensitivity Maps and Environmental Sensitivity Index Maps.
- The existing study ‘Transport and Fate of Water and Oil Particles Released in the Straits of Florida’ is specific to a defined area. Additional, alternate well locations were and are being investigated to provide different geological, drilling and cost options. This requires that the original study be revisted to assure validity and currency.
- The Company is a member of the Oil Spill Response Group to ensure adequate access to oil spill response capabilities, equipment and expertise. Considerable planning has sourced a level of emergency and remedial equipment that would be available in support of an exploration well and in the unlikely event of an associated incident or threat.
The Company has also continued its focus on environmental and safety related studies. The EIA previously submitted included an extensive particle transport simulation study illustrating the potential distribution of any particulate matter derived from a simulated well site. This comprehensive study shows that virtually no spilled oil would reach The Bahamas’ beaches nor Marine Protected Areas and preparedness will need to be focused on intervention between the potential well site and Cuba. These results were presented during a visit to Cuba to appreciate their response capabilities and processes.
Studies/work completed or underway include:
- Assessment of support available from Oil Spill Response Limited – a joint industry group established to provide emergency response and equipment in the unlikely event of an accident – and integration into planning.
- Completed calculation of ‘Worst Case Discharge’.
- An evaluation of sea bottom and shallow subsea drilling hazards in the vicinity of possible drill sites using multibeam and 3D seismic data was completed.
- An evaluation of the sea bottom over a large portion of the Company’s Southern Licence area based on the multibeam data.
- Environmental Management Plan (EMP) substantially complete, all outstanding elements remain rig specific and therefore cannot be completed until a rig has been selected for drilling.
- Oil Spill Response Plan complete.
- Well planning substantially completed (pending rig specific elements). This plan incorporates previous drilling in the area along with the 3D and multibeam data collected previously.
- Developed methodology for the collection of data to aggregate as Environmental Sensitivity Maps to delineate critical and natural wildlife communities, their activities and habitats throughout focus areas.
- More detailed classification of coastlines on a 5 km by 5 km grid to provide an index of priorities for the marshalling of resources and prioritisation of response in the event of a threat or incident.