BOEM issues final PEIS for gulf G&G activities

The US Bureau of Ocean Energy Management issued a final programmatic environmental impact statement (PEIS) for geological and geophysical activities in the Gulf of Mexico. The International Association of Geophysical Contractors immediately expressed concerns over the document’s mitigation.

The US Bureau of Ocean Energy Management issued a final programmatic environmental impact statement (PEIS) for geological and geophysical activities in the Gulf of Mexico. The International Association of Geophysical Contractors immediately expressed concerns over the document’s mitigation.

The programmatic EIS focuses particularly on the potential environmental effects of off-lease and on-lease geological (bottom sampling and test drilling) and geophysical (deep-penetration, high-resolution geophysical, electromagnetic, deep stratigraphic, and remote sensing) surveys, the US Department of the Interior agency said in its Aug. 4 notice.

The final PEIS jeopardizes one of the world’s most important energy resources regions, IAGC Pres. Nikki Martin warned. “In choosing its preferred alternative, the agency disregarded 50 years of successful seismic survey exploration alongside vibrant thriving marine ecosystems in the [gulf], and issued a final PEIS that ignores the best available science,” she said.

Martin noted that while IAGC is still reviewing the final PEIS, “it appears to remain overly precautionary with seriously flawed marine mammal effects analysis for seismic activities and is unsupported by best available information, thus leading to the proposed alternative which poses non-scientific and unnecessary restrictions on geophysical surveys.”

Mitigation measures for the sake of “precaution” based on unsubstantiated claims from anti-energy development interests should have no basis in US statute or regulation, and threaten the economic and operational feasibility of performing geophysical surveys in areas ripe for updated data to support future lease sales and production, Martin said.

“Specifically, an arbitrary 4-month near-shore closure in all coastal waters, including state waters, has no scientific merit or environmental benefit and should be precluded from BOEM’s record of decision,” she said.

Martin said when BOEM issued its draft PEIS in 2016, the oil and gas industry urged the agency to rely on science and risk-based regulations consistent with existing practices which are both effective and operationally feasible, and not bow to the political pressure of the anti-oil and gas agenda which refuses to look at the long-standing history of environmentally safe seismic operations in the gulf.

“For nearly 8 decades, geophysical surveys have been conducted in the gulf, including extensive activity for the past 50 years, and there is no documented scientific evidence of this activity adversely affecting marine animal populations or coastal communities,” she said.

Contact Nick Snow at nicks@pennwell.com.

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