At BP, environmental protection means avoiding impacts in the first place. When that isn't possible, we develop plans to reduce impacts as much as possible.
The environmental protection plan for the Pokak Seismic Program used a number of mitigation measures, such as:
- Marine mammal observers
- During seismic operations, trained marine mammal observers (MMOs) were onboard the seismic vessel, the Viking Vision. A minimum of two MMOs continuously monitored for marine mammals during daylight hours with good visibility, and were responsible for advising the seismic crew to shutdown operations if a whale or polar bear was observed within the designated safety radius. MMOs were also aboard the support vessel.
- Soft starts
- Prior to starting seismic operations, the source array (sound source) - is ramped up gradually, starting with the firing of one airgun. The number of active airguns is then gradually increased to help deter marine mammals from entering the operational area. Starting the full source array gradually is an industry recognized best practice that helps deter marine mammals from entering the program area.
- Safety radius
- A safety radius or buffer zone is the minimum distance that the seismic vessel must maintain away from whales or polar bears. If a whale or polar bear is observed within the zone, operations will be shut down until the mammal has left the area. Marine mammals will be considered to have cleared the safety radius if they are visually observed to have left it, or if they have not been seen within it for 30 minutes.
- Safe fuel handling and transfer procedures
- The Viking Vision seismic vessel, operated by CGGVeritas, is equipped with the latest in safety and emergency response equipment. Fuel transfer procedures and equipment such as dry break couplings on fuel hoses were used to ensure that no spills occurred. Fuel transfer activities complied with all applicable regulations including the Arctic Waters Oil Transfer Guidelines (Transport Canada 1997).
- Waste management
- All vessels used for the Pokak Seismic Program complied with the Arctic Waters Pollution Prevention Act. Both waste water and solid waste were handled, stored and disposed of according to government regulations.
- The Viking Vision is equipped with modern sewage treatment facilities but is also capable of transferring waste to another vessel for proper disposal or storage if there are any problems with this equipment. No bilge water was discharged and solid waste was either incinerated or disposed of on land at a regulated disposal facility.