What is an Environmental Impact Assessment?
An Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) is a systematic process
to identify the baseline conditions in a project and surrounding
area before it commences, predicts and evaluates the potential
environmental impacts, whether positive or negative, of the
proposed project actions, in order to aid decision making regarding
the significant environmental consequences of the project.
What is an Environmental Management Plan?
An Environmental Management Plan (EMP) is a site specific plan
outlining agreed performance criteria and all measures that are
necessary in order to minimise and mitigate potential impacts to
the environment while complying with all aspects of environmental
legislation. It defines respective roles and responsibilities and
identifies appropriate emergency preparedness and
responses. The EMP serves as a measuring tool for the
government to assess the environmental performance of the
What is an Oil Spill Contingency Plan?
An Oil Spill Contingency Plan (OSCP) is a roadmap that outlines
the steps that should be taken before, during and after an
accidental oil spill to control, contain and clean up the spill
from the environment. The OSCP will describe the regional shoreline
sensitivities, the local and international support infrastructure
such as ports and airports, oil spill risk scenarios and oil spill
trajectory modelling, available oil response equipment in the
project and surrounding project areas (on-board and onshore),
notification procedures, communications systems and the
organisational structure. Obviously it is the desire and intention
of all parties involved NOT to have a spill of any kind and to
ensure containment is assured throughout the project, but it is an
obligation for all those involved to ensure an appropriate response
should there be an incident - no matter how small or apparently
What is the difference between a blow out and a kick?
A kick is the entry of formation fluid (i.e. salt water, gas,
oil or a mixture) into the well bore while drilling normally
controlled by the fluid systems and equipment utilised. A blow out
is when the formation fluid from a kick overpowers employed systems
and equipment, resulting in surges in well bore pressure. The
outcome of which means more fluids will be flowing out from the
well than is being pumped into the well to overcome the pressures.
At this time normal emergency procedures cut in and protection
equipment is deployed.
What is a Blowout Preventer?
A Blowout Preventer (BOP) is a large, specialised valve used to
control excessive wellbore pressures by either closing over an open
wellbore, sealing around drill pipe and drilling string in the well
or by more dramatically using steel shearing surfaces (rams) to cut
through drill pipe in order to seal the wellbore. This control
equipment has normally multiple fail-safe systems with two rams
each operated electrically and hydraulically. More recently double
BOP systems have been deployed which effectively has two BOP's
sitting above the well bore.
What are the functions of a drilling fluid?
There are multiple functions of a drilling fluid, more commonly
known as mud, but most importantly it is there to: lubricate, cool
and clean the drill bit; circulate cuttings out of the wellbore for
identification and analysis; and, control pressures and prevent the
uncontrolled inflow of formation fluids
What type of drilling fluids will be used for the project?
The Company intends to use water (i.e. seawater) as the basis
for its drilling fluids. In certain operating situations there are
options to use synthetic-based drilling fluids, but currently there
are no plans to use synthetic drilling fluids. If, due to technical
or safety reasons its use becomes unavoidable; a strict policy of
'total containment' will apply for the duration of its use across
the whole rig. Synthetic drilling fluids and all mud will be
contained and shipped to shore to certified facilities for
recycling by the vendor. It should be noted that oil-based fluids
will not be used for drilling at any time. Notwithstanding these
restrictions, all chemicals used during any operations will be
selected on the basis that they are
'environmentally friendly' and low toxicity selected using the
internationally recognised OSPAR classification for chemicals
(OSPAR Oslo/Paris commissions emerged following a growing general
awareness of the potential dangers of pollution following a number
of serious oil tanker incidents.) Thus, all containers will be
classified using a green and yellow designation to be tracked and
accounted for. No chemicals designated as red and black under this
system are intended to be used throughout the whole operation.
How would one determine what exists on the seabed near the drill site and prior to any drilling?
A high resolution sea bottom survey using Multibeam and 3D
seismic techniques has been used to capture the natural and
man-made sea bottom features within a wide project area. Such a
survey allows the Company to determine the accurate presence of the
• seabed topography and relief
• sea grass beds
• communication cables
• cold water corals
• gas vents and natural oil seeps
• archaeological features
• benthic communities
• fishing spawning grounds
This work will then be translated into an environmental
sensitivity map to be used throughout the project to direct
activity. Once a drill rig is on site further verification and a
detailed visual inspection will take place using a Remote Operated