Seismic Surveys and Atlantic Oil

The International association of Geophysical contractors recently posted the following article

“You can’t find what you can’t see — Seismic surveys shine a light on Atlantic oil

BY ROGER KEYTE, OPINION CONTRIBUTOR – 06/15/17 08:00 AM EDT 8

It has been more than 30 years since the last seismic surveys were taken of the outer continental shelf of the Atlantic seaboard. The estimates we currently have for how much oil and natural gas may lie beneath those waters leave much to be desired. It’s past time — in the spirit of exploring the unknown and for ensuring our energy security — we conduct new surveys to understand just what resources we potentially have within reach.

Advancing the Science of Sound and Marine Life

Ocean News & Technology recently  published the following article:

“Advancing the Science of Sound and Marine Life”

Edited by Dr. Gary H. Isakesen

 Chairman, Sound and Marine Joint Industry Program

Our oceans host a variety of sounds. Some are generated from natural sources, such as breaking waves, plate tectonics, ice calving, whales, fish (e.g., croaker), and crustaceans (e.g., snapping and mantis shrimp). Other sounds are generated from human activities, such as vessel traffic, seismic surveys, pile driving, wind turbines, sea-bottom trawling, echo-sounders, and sonar.

NMFS Seeks Comment on Proposed IHAs

The U.S. National Marine Fisheries Service MFS has received five requests for authorization to take marine mammals incidental to conducting geophysical survey activity in the Atlantic Ocean. Pursuant to the Marine Mammal Protection Act, NMFS requests comments on its proposal to issue incidental harassment authorizations to incidentally take marine mammals during the specified activities. NMFS must receive any Comments and information must be received no later than July 6, 2017. Click here to read Federal Register notice of this proposed action.

NMFS Seeks Comment on Technical Guidance’s Compliance with Executive Order 13795

The U.S. National Marine Fisheries Service seeks public comment to assist the Secretary of Commerce’s review of NMFS’ August 2016 Technical Guidance for Assessing the Effects of Anthropogenic Sound on Marine Mammal Hearing: Underwater Acoustic Thresholds for Onset of Permanent and Temporary Threshold Shifts. The Commerce Secretary will be reviewing the Technical Guidance pursuant to section 10 of Presidential Executive Order 13795, Implementing an America-First Offshore Energy Strategy (April 28, 2017). Comments must be received by NMFS on or before July 17, 2017. Click here for more information and relevant links.

CRE Comments on NMFS’ Air Force IHA

On June 5, 2017, the Center for Regulatory Effectiveness filed comments with the U.S. National Marine Fisheries Service on NMFS’ Proposed Regulations Governing Takes of Marine Mammals Incidental to the U.S. Air Force 86 Fighter Weapons Squadron Conducting Long Range Strike Weapons System Evaluation Program at the Pacific Missile Range Facility at Kauai, Hawaii, 86 FR 21156 (May 5, 2017),

CRE’s comments included the following and other points.

  • NMFS use of the Acoustic Guidance conflicts with Section 10 of Executive Order 13795.
  • NMFS does not have an OMB-approved ICR for the Acoustic Guidance

CRE Files Comments Opposing NMFS Using Its Acoustic Guidance in IHAs

On June 1, 2017, the Center for Regulatory Effectiveness filed comments with NMFS on the Service’s proposed issuance of an Incidental harassment authorization for Ocean Wind, LLC. This proposed IHA would authorize Ocean Wind to take marine mammals incidental to geophysical and geotechnical activities associated with marine site characterization surveys off the coast of New Jersey.

CRE’s comments do not oppose NMFS’ issuance of this proposed IHA. CRE’s comments do, however, oppose NMFS’ use of its new Acoustic Guidance in this IHA and for any other purpose. As explained in CRE’s comments, CRE’s opposition to Acoustic Guidance use is based on the following and other grounds.

Article on Uncertainties in Atlantic Seismic Permitting

Bloomberg BNA published an article entitled “Atlantic Seismic Surveys May Get Permits But Await Action.” This article begins as follows:

“Six companies are hoping to get permits to conduct seismic surveys in the U.S. Atlantic offshore as a step toward identifying the most promising places to drill for oil or natural gas.

The Trump administration is supportive of the seismic work, but uncertainty remains over whether the surveys actually will be conducted. No lease sales for exploration drilling have been scheduled for the Outer Continental Shelf in the Atlantic, and without the prospect of lease sales, the service companies that do the seismic work may be unable to find clients among oil companies to finance the surveys.

BOEM Publishes Record of Decision for Cook Inlet Planning Area Lease Sale

The Bureau of Ocean Energy Management has published its Record of Decision for the Cook Inlet Planning Area, Outer Continental Shelf (OCS) Oil and Gas Lease Sale 244 (Lease Sale 244). This Record of Decision identifies the Bureau’s selected alternative for holding Lease Sale 244, which is analyzed in the Alaska OCS: Cook Inlet Planning Area Oil and Gas Lease Sale 244 in the Cook Inlet, Alaska; Final Environmental Impact Statement (FEIS) (OCS/EIS EA BOEM 2016-069). The Record of Decision and associated information are available on BOEM’s website here.

NMFS Uses Acoustic Guidance In Another IHA

The U.S. National Marine Fisheries Service has proposed issuance of an incidental harassment authorization to incidentally take marine mammals from Quintillion Subsea Operations,LLC, during subsea cable-laying and maintenance activities in the Beaufort, Bering, and Chukchi seas. This IHA would be issued under the Marine Mammal Protection Act. NMFS must receive any comments and information on this proposed IHA no later than June 12, 2017.

In this IHA, NMFS continues to require use of its new Acoustic Guidance.

Click here for more details and relevant links.

Arctic Council Meets

The Associated press distributed an article entitled “Arctic Council to meet amid drilling concerns.” The entire article is available here. It begins as follows:

“Fairbanks, Alaska — High-level officials from the world’s eight Arctic nations will meet in Alaska amid concerns about the future of the sensitive region after President Donald Trump called for more oil drilling and development.

Among those expected to attend the meeting of the Arctic Council beginning Thursday in Fairbanks are U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, who met Wednesday with Trump and Tillerson in Washington.