Falklands : Falkland Islands Offshore Hydrocarbons Environmental Forum
Submitted by Falkland Islands News Network (Juanita Brock) 21.09.2013 (Article Archived on 19.10.2013)
The fifth meeting of the Falkland Islands Offshore Hydrocarbons Environmental Forum took place on 5th September in the Chamber of Commerce.
Falkland Islands Offshore Hydrocarbons
Synopsis of Forum meeting held at
1.30pm, September 5th 2013
Phyl Rendell and Andrea Clausen
The fifth meeting of the Falkland
Islands Offshore Hydrocarbons Environmental Forum took place on 5th
September in the Chamber of Commerce. The Forum comprises representatives of the
oil industry, environmental organisations and relevant Falkland Islands
Government departments. The Forum meets
to provide a means for structured formal and informal consultation on proposed
and ongoing hydrocarbon exploration and production activities that may affect
the natural environment in and around the Falkland Islands.
The Forum meeting focussed on the
Gap Analysis findings and costings to undertake a major 2 year programme of
science to support hydrocarbons development in Falklands waters. The meeting also assessed the use of
Non-aqueous drilling fluids such as oil-based muds and their potential use in
Drilling Fluids and Cuttings
Management – industry case studies
Richard Lobeck of Premier Oil gave
a presentation on the use of oil-based muds in industry, focused on the
management of drilling fluids and cuttings.
He outlined the modern use of drilling muds and fluids noting the use of
water-based, synthetic and oil-based products.
It was noted that the Sea Lion Development will largely comprise
water-based muds but that oil-based muds will likely be required in some
instances for deep water operations, extended reach and difficult directional
drilling. Richard also noted that the
use of oil-based muds can improve safety when drilling more complicated
sections of a well.
Richard went on to highlight
recent industry developments in drill cuttings processing, notably through the
use of thermal desorption rotomills on-board oil rigs. This technology has been proven to reduce oil
on cuttings to less than one per cent, the industry standard in the UK North
Sea. This process negates the need to
‘skip and ship’ cuttings to shore, with all processing on board the rig and
remaining cuttings discharged on site.
The carbon footprint of rotomill
processing and ‘skip and ship’ procedures was compared, with the rotomill
footprint being much smaller. Avoiding
‘skip and ship’ reduces logistic requirements and reduces the safety
implications of moving large amounts of material from rig to shore.
It was noted that the cuttings
footprint of oil-based muds is much lower than water-based muds. There was discussion on this point as well as
the technical issues of installing rotomills. Richard Lobeck advised that the
use of rotomills on rigs is becoming prevalent in the North Sea and should be
considered in the Falklands in future.
Regulations on Non-Aqueous
Roddy Cordeiro gave a presentation
on the regulations in the Falklands relating to the use of non-aqueous drilling
fluids (NADFs) and to the results of the consultation on developing
regulations. Roddy gave background on
the legislation, mostly produced in the late 1990s and now largely out of date.
Roddy outlined comments he has
received as part of the consultation on NADF regulations. These are available in a paper provided to
the Forum. The recommendations of the
paper are that: 1. the use of NADFs be considered on a well by well basis, 2.
The release of whole NADFs in any stage of drilling is not to be permitted, 3.
Supporting assessments including baseline survey and an EIA be prepared to
support a technical failure during operations, 4. Offshore discharge of NADFs
be limited to less than 1% or less dry weight OOC. 5. Only low toxicity OBMs
and synthetic muds with low or negligible PAH content consent will be permitted,
6. FIG retains the right to amend the regulations based on international
practice and technology improvements.
There was a discussion over the
potential onshore processing of cuttings/powder. It was suggested this would be considered in
the company’s Waste Management Plan and would be assessed primarily by PWD and
EPD. It was clear that a secondary use
of processed cuttings/powder is not practical.
There was a discussion on the
cumulative impact of drill cuttings in the development of the Sea Lion
field. It was suggested this would be
covered in the EIA process but that FIG may consider a Strategic Environmental
Assessment (SEA) in future to address cumulative impacts.
Oil Programme Update
Humphrey gave an update on Premier Oil’s plans regarding the Sea Lion field
development. He advised on further work
which has upgraded the field estimate to a total of 394 million barrels and
updates on flow assurance. Premier has
reappraised their FPSO mobilisation and sub-sea infrastructure costs.
on to note a proposed rig-share with Noble Energy for a 3 well
exploration/appraisal programme in the Sea Lion area in 2014/15.
outlined the current thinking on the Sea Lion Development, with a phased
development of the exploitation of hydrocarbons, focussing first on the
reserves in the north, followed by the south.
The potential use of a Tension Leg Platform to reduce the footprint of
subsea infrastructure is now being considered along with the FPSO option.
Winkleman introduced Chris Wright who gave a presentation on Noble Energy’s
activities and planning for exploration in their South Falklands basin
outlined the 3D seismic survey work Noble has undertaken between December 2012
and June 2013. This covered 5,500 square
km of 3D survey in the southern basin.
The vessel used utilised Marine Mammal Observers and Passive Acoustic
Monitoring devices. Noble plan to
undertake further seismic work in the southern basin starting in November 2013,
likely to take between 4 to 6 months.
went on to highlight the exploratory drilling campaign Noble is planning for
the south. This will comprise up to 4
wells on 2 locations to be confirmed following further analysis. These wells will be similar to those drilled
by the Leiv Eiriksson in 1200 to 1500m water and are planned to start in late
2014 once approvals are in place. These
approvals will include full environmental baseline survey, EIA and waste
presented Noble’s plans for a temporary dock facility east of FIPASS in Stanley
harbour to support the exploration campaign.
After approvals are in place Noble plan to start construction in late
2013 or early 2014. The dock will be a
floating prefabricated structure and will take roughly six months to
construct. The dock will comprise a
400ft by 100ft barge which will be secured via piles with access via a
that Noble and their consultants RPS are currently engaged in a week-long
consultation with stakeholders on the assessment on their two upcoming
projects, a temporary dock in Stanley Harbour and their 2014 exploration
Oil Environmental Update
Duffy and Richard Lobeck gave a presentation on Premier Oil’s environmental
Duffy updated on the static acoustic monitoring devices and data collected
recently over a one year programme, to assess cetacean movements in the Sea
Lion field area. All the data has been
successfully retrieved from the devices and is now being analysed prior to
production of the final report.
Preliminary results are interesting including further species recordings
near the Sea Lion area. The research has
also given good underwater background noise levels.
gave an update on the Stanley Harbour Environmental Baseline Survey. This work is in support of a temporary jetty
and has now been parked. The data has
been passed to Noble for them to use in support of their temporary dock. The results show little diversity in benthic
fauna, with a native species of sea cucumber being the most notable species
present. The coastal fauna and flora
survey was also noted. There were no threatened or red list species noted near
the potential development area East of FIPASS.
Lobeck presented the findings of a fishing effort study undertaken by
consultants for Premier Oil, considering the level of fishing effort in the Sea
Lion field area. This survey noted
mitigation to protect subsea equipment and flow lines from trawling and other
fishing activities. The survey noted
limited ilex squid fishing historically in the Sea Lion area and that there
were only 3 trawling events in the area in recent years. Overall the exercise demonstrated minimal
fishing activity and provided options for a fishing exclusion zone with a guard
vessel in the area.
presented on Premier’s oil spill management work in recent months. He highlighted the high wax content of the
Sea Lion crude and showed an interesting video of oil from the Sea Lion field
reacting with sea water as if accidentally spilled. Premier plan to contract Sintef of Norway to
conduct a weathering study to further assess potential impacts. A wave-rider buoy is to be situated for 3
years at the Sea Lion field to collect swell and other oceanographic data.
spill modelling is progressing with the OSCAR model chosen to 3D model
potential spill scenarios. Further
modelling to be undertaken looking at FPSO surface release as well as an open
hole blow out.
concluded that there is a large amount of background work in train to bring
together a number of surveys including; a full Environmental Baseline Survey
and ESIA to support the Sea Lion Development, an ESIA for further exploration,
offshore development design, full waste management philosophy and further
modelling, an oil weathering study, and engagement with Oil Spill Response Ltd
to contribute to oil spill management.
Analysis Costings Paper
Brickle presented a paper on the Gap Analysis exercise including costings to
undertake the priority areas identified.
Paul gave some background on the work undertaken over the past 18 months
including the Terms of Reference and methodology. He noted that seabirds and sea mammals came
out as the highest priority, with an expert-led Ecological Risk Assessment
(ERA) identified in the actions including a comprehensive tagging programme and
reworking of the JNCC data collected in the late 1990s. This is to be led by a senior post-doc
oceanography, inshore and fisheries gaps in data repository were identified as
the second area the project is to focus on.
A second senior post-doc project officer is recommended to lead on
co-ordinating the repository of relevant data to support this area. This work will include taxonomy and other
collective benefits and will pursue establishing a Natural History Museum
noted that Fisheries Dept and FIFCA have highlighted the need to better
research Loligo spawning grounds around the Falklands.
went on to summarise the costings to implement this programme of work. Major costs include the tagging devices for
penguins identified, salaries for the two Project Officers and the two
workshops required to facilitate the ERA.
The total budget comes to just under £600,000.
discussion followed the presentation on some aspects of the detail of the
programme, including the penguin tagging programme and the curation of
data. Paul Brickle noted on the timings
that it would be ideal if the project officers could begin work early in the
2014. There was a discussion on the
length of the programme, but it was agreed 2 years is a sensible period.
was discussed, with FIG officers noting up to £300,000 being made available
from FIG over the 2 year project. Ken
Humphrey took the lead for the oil industry and agreed to coordinate an
approach to FIPLA to find the remaining £300,000.
was discussed with agreement that an oversight group should be formed on behalf
of the Forum comprising the Director of Mineral Resources, a FIPLA
representative and the Deputy Chair of the Forum, to assess progress on a
thanked Paul Brickle and the Gap Analysis group for all their hard work and
noted the upcoming internal deadlines to finalise FIG approval for funding the
Environmental Regulations Gap
Roddy Cordeiro raised the lack of
environmental legislation in relation to development of hydrocarbons and
suggested an ‘Environmental Regulations Gap Exercise’ might be useful to assess
additional legislation required to improve regulation of the oil industry. Chair agreed to Roddy forming a steering
group administered by the Department of Mineral Resources to scope the gaps