The International Association of Geophysical Contractors applauded the US Department of the Interior’s Mar. 28 announcement that it was beginning an assessment of possible environmental impacts from future seismic surveys on the South and Mid-Atlantic US Outer Continental Shelf. “Unfortunately, this announcement is anticlimatic, now that the [Obama] administration has removed any leasing along the Atlantic seaboard from now until 2017,” IAGC Pres. Chip Gill said.
Gill conceded that applications to conduct geophysical activity on the Atlantic OCS remain on file with the US Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, but added that they were the result of industry interest after congressional leasing moratoriums expired and presidential withdrawals were lifted in 2008.
“Geophysical contractors acquire nonexclusive geophysical data for license to the oil and gas industry as well as acquire it as a service to oil and gas companies,” Gill said. “Therefore, contrary to the statements [by US Interior Sec. Ken Salazar and BOEM Director Tommy P. Beaudreau], we do not expect seismic surveys to be conducted for years, and thus we don’t expect it to be available to help the federal government evaluate the resource base anytime soon.”
Gill also questioned Interior’s decision to limit activity to South and Mid-Atlantic OCS. “We continue to urge the administration to expand the scope of its environmental review to the North Atlantic Planning Area,” he said. “If [it] is not included, we hope the government will allow individual project-specific environmental assessments to go forward that will facilitate geological and geophysical operations [there].”
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