Biodiversity

Operational sites owned, leased, managed in, or adjacent to, protected areas and areas of high biodiversity value outside protected areas.

These are reported on the basis of Cairn operatorship only as at the end of 2015.

Area of operations Geographical location; type of operation Protected areas (distance to licence block, status)
Senegal, Sangomar deep offshore

Approximately 85km offshore from the nearest coast, in water depths ranging from 800m to 2,000m.

Appraisal and exploration drilling (FAN-1, SNE-1 in 2014, SNE-2 and SNE-3 wells in 2015).

Saloum Delta Biosphere Reserve and National Park (onshore at least 85km away). The biosphere reserve comprises 72,000 ha of marine areas, 23,000 ha of flooded areas, and 85,000 ha of terrestrial islands. The National Park, which forms part of a UNESCO World Heritage Site and a Ramsar Convention site, lies within a 180,000 ha biosphere reserve.

Other protected areas in the vicinity include Magdalen Islands National Park, Gorée Island, Popenguine Natural Reserve, Joal Fadiouth Protected Marine area, Protected Marine area of Bamboung, Protected Marine area of Abéné, Lower Casamance National Park.

Senegal, Sangomar offshore and Rufisque offshore blocks

Blocks run from shore south of Dakar to Joal-Fadiouth to the south and offshore to border Sangomar deep.

Seismic shot nearest location 16km from coastal region of Le Petite Côte, 23km from Dakar and 28km from Rufisque. Water depths from 20m to 1,500m m over approximately 2,300km2.

RAMSAR site Saloum Delta Biosphere Reserve and National Park (43km on shore to east – see above). Magedelen Islands National Park (21km north), Langue de Barbarie National Park (20km north) and Popenguine Nature Reserve 15km to north-east. Other areas include Cap Vert, Joal-Fadiouth and La Petite Côte International Bird Areas. Protected Marine areas of Kayar (Grand Côte) and Saint Louis. Others see diagram.

Spanish Point (FEL 2/04), Spanish Point (FEL 4/08) North and FEL 1/14 Porcupine Basin, offshore Republic of Ireland

Approximately 130km off the west coast of the Republic of Ireland.

No activities in 2015, 800km of 3D seismic in 2014.

There are three offshore Special Areas of Conservation (SACs) in the locale of the survey area (Figure 1: Protected areas offshore Ireland). The closest is the Hovland Mound site.

The Hovland Mound site has been selected as a SAC for reefs (biogenic); a habitat that is listed on Annex I of the E.U. Habitats Directive.

The Hovland Mound Province is located on the northern margins of the Porcupine Seabight, approximately 7.45km from the Spanish Point and 130km west of the south-west Irish coast. Other coastal sites are over 150km to the east. Special Areas of Conservation (SAC) and candidate SACs are over 130km east. These include Lower River Shannon, West Connacht Coast (cSAC), Blasket Islands and Roaringwater Bay and Islands. Designated Marine Protected Areas are considerable distances away with the exception of Hovland Mound See Figure 2.

Offshore Malta 1,2 and 3 (Area 3 licence)

Approximately 1,500km of offshore

No activities in 2015. 2D seismic survey in Area 3 off the north coast of the Maltese archipelago in 2014.

Malta has a large number of protected areas under national and international designations (Figure 3: Protected areas in Malta, Gozo). These include six relatively recently designated Marine Protected Areas that cover 80% of the seagrass meadows in the shallow waters around the islands.

These protected areas are in-shore or on land and at their closest are approximately 1.9km (1 nautical mile) from the closest point on the survey area, outside Cairn’s licensed area of activity. See Figure 3.

UK offshore Scylla, licence P2149 (block 9/6).

Lies approximately 150km south and east of the Shetland Islands.

No activities.

Strategic Environmental Assessment (SEA2) available for area. SEA2 indicates blocks are important for some marine mammals including harbour porpoise. No immediate Marine Protected Areas known near the location although some features are located over 100km to the south including Braemar Pockmarks (SAC), Central Fladen Nature Conservation MPA is situated some distance to the south west and Pobie Bank Reef and other features adjacent to the Shetland Coast.

Pitu offshore Greenland licence 2011/13

Lies approximately 150km north west of Upernavik in the high Arctic. The block lies between 25km-45km offshore at its nearest point in Baffin Bay.

No activities.

3D seismic conducted in 2011.

No Ramsar sites lie within the block. The Melville Bay Nature Protection Area is situated to the north of the licence block and was designated primarily to protect polar bears. Although a nature protection area, traditional hunting is allowed in an outer part and exploration for petroleum and minerals is allowed throughout. According to the Greenland Nature Protection Law several areas along the coastline to the south of the licence block are nature reserves. The Bird Protection Law also designates Bird Protection Areas, where breeding colonies are protected and access is prohibited in the breeding season. See Figure 4.

Figure 1: Protected areas in offshore Senegal

Protected areas offshore Senegal

Figure 2: Protected areas offshore Ireland

Protected areas offshore Ireland

Figure 3: Protected areas in Malta, Gozo

Protected areas Malta

Figure 4: Nature Protection and Important Bird Areas Pitu, Greenland

Nature Protection and Important Bird Areas Pitu, Greenland

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Description of significant impacts of activities, products, and services on biodiversity in protected areas and areas of high biodiversity value outside protected areas

This section reports on 2015 activities only in operated assets.

Area of operations* Nature of significant direct or indirect impacts on biodiversity Significant direct or indirect impacts on species
Senegal, Sangomar deep offshore

Potential for direct impacts on the biodiversity of the benthic environment in the vicinity of the Sangomar deep wells was identified due to smothering by drill cuttings and from the discharge of drilling fluids.

No significant direct or indirect impacts on biodiversity were identified during the ESIA process undertaken for operations in Senegal. Water-based chemicals were selected as drilling fluids to pose little or no risk (PLONOR) and to be the least toxic in order to maintain function and safety. Discharges were kept to a practical minimum during drilling. Localised smothering of non-mobile benthic organisms in the immediate vicinity of the well was anticipated and observed but no overall direct or indirect impact on biodiversity occurred.

The assessment work was supplemented in 2015 for further exploration and appraisal work using different equipment. This work indicated no substantial changes in impacts on biodiversity.

Senegal, Sangomar offshore and Rufisque offshore blocks

Disruption of marine mammal communication and behaviour was identified as a potential impact due to the use of air guns for sound generation used in the seismic process. Potential impact on fishing communities including artisan fishing activities.

A voluntary baseline environmental assessment was conducted to understand potential impacts and required mitigation measures identified. Mitigation measures were applied based on UK JNCC guidelines including ‘soft start’ and Passive Acoustic Monitoring (PAM). Marine mammal observers were placed on the vessel to assist in identification of vulnerable species and feedback observations as part of the mitigation process.

No significant or lasting direct or indirect impacts are considered to have occurred.

Spanish Point (FEL 2/04), Spanish Point (FEL 4/08) North and FEL 1/14, Porcupine Basin, offshore Republic of Ireland

No activities in 2015 although planning commenced regarding appraisal drilling for Spanish Point and this included revising an Environmental Area Assessment and Natura Impact Assessment report first developed in 2013. This activity was postponed until a later date.

NA

Offshore Malta 1,2 and 3 (Area 3 licence)

No activities in 2015

NA

UK offshore Scylla, licence P2149 (block 9/6).

No activities in 2015

NA

Pitu offshore Greenland licence 2011/13

No activities in 2015

NA

*No operations occured on other licences

Habitats protected or restored

The impacts from Cairn drilling operations on the environment and biodiversity in Senegal were, although measurable, very limited in scale and localised. No habitats required restoration following completion of drilling activities. Seismic operations in Senegal had no notable or measurable impacts on the environment or biodiversity.

The following measures were implemented, or planned for implementation, during the 2015 exploration drilling campaigns and seismic programmes.

Activity Potential impact Mitigation/protection measures
Routine drilling operations

Potential disturbance and behavioural changes in fish, marine mammals and reptiles due to increase in background marine noise levels from drilling operations.

  • Days on location of the Mobile Offshore Drilling Unit (MODU) were kept to a minimum.
  • Operational and maintenance procedures on the MODU aimed to optimise the efficiency of equipment and schedule of operations.
  • Vessel and helicopter movements were optimised by careful planning and avoiding environmentally sensitive areas and periods.
  • Circling or hovering over marine mammals or sites identified as sensitive for seabird colonies were prohibited.
Routine Seismic and drilling operations

Noise from seismic surveys.

  • Qualified marine mammal observers (MMOs) were on site during seismic survey operations.
  • The MMOs visually monitored the 500m exclusion zone around the rig or vessel location for at least 30 minutes to ensure that no marine mammals or sea turtles were within this area prior to commencement of seismic operations.
  • A ‘soft start’ of no less than 20 minutes had been undertaken prior to commencement of Seismic While Drilling (SWD) operations.
  • A single gun mitigation shot was fired every 10 minutes.
  • Application of Passive Acoustic Monitoring (PAM)
Routing drilling operations Potential for obstruction to fishing operations due to presence of exclusion zone around the MODU (loss of access to fishing ground) or by seismic vessels. Economic costs to fisheries.
  • A safety exclusion zone was maintained at 500m from the MODU.
  • A vessel was on standby at all times, monitoring transit/fishing vessels within the area and maintaining the exclusion zone.
  • Early-warning radar and communication systems on board the standby vessel and MODU were used to identify and communicate with any approaching vessels.
  • Liaison with the shipping and fishing authorities and other fishing groups had been maintained.
  • The shipboard emergency response plans of the MODU and supply/support vessels had been verified by Cairn for adequacy to respond to the potential collision threat.
  • Use of ‘chase’ vessels to warn fishing vessels regarding approach of seismic vessel in addition to pre-notifications and liaison with fishing organisations.
Routine drilling operations

Potential land take, increased use of local/limited/infrastructure, services, accommodation facilities and resources, increased air, marine and onshore traffic due to presence of onshore logistic base and support activities.

  • Local disturbance was minimised by use of existing facilities, optimisation of supply/support and crew change operations.
  • Local employment and use of available services/resources was maximised to benefit local population and businesses.
  • Local content strategy was implemented.
  • Stakeholder engagement strategy was developed and implemented, and included a grievance mechanism to ensure that any concerns or issues were addressed in a timely manner.
Routine drilling operations

Disturbance of seabed habitats and associated fauna due to anchoring of the drilling rig.

  • Site survey had confirmed the absence of sensitive features at the proposed anchoring location. The rig used in 2015 was dynamically positioned and therefore was not anchored.
Routine drilling and seismic operations

Emissions to air.

  • Main power generation equipment had been well maintained and operated.
  • Contracted vessels were required to control fuel use, maintain equipment, manage energy and optimise voyage management, wherever possible.
  • All drilling and seismic activities were planned so as to minimise duration and ensure efficient operations.
  • The design of any well test programme is optimised to minimise quantities of oil and gas flared.
  • Use of high combustion efficiency burners during the well test operations to prevent oil drop out (see below).
Routine drilling and seismic operations

Waste management.

  • All vessels and bases had a Waste Management Plan and Waste Transfer documentation was implemented.
  • Cairn enforced strict segregation and containment of waste.
  • All solid wastes, including any oil recovered from the slops tank or drains, had been transferred to shore for further shipment and/or disposal at appropriate licensed facilities.
  • All waste transfers had been logged and recorded in shipboard logs and transfer notes.
  • No unauthorised waste materials had been discharged to sea.
  • All wastes had been managed and disposed of according to the Waste Management Plan, the Duty of Care and based on EU definitions and legislation.
Routine drilling and seismic operations

Contamination of soil/groundwater and visual impact due to onshore disposal.

  • Use of authorised, assessed and properly managed waste-handling facilities onshore.
  • Shipment and disposal by specialised and registered waste-handling contractors.
  • Medical waste had been incinerated at the approved facilities onshore.
  • Waste oils had been transferred to the approved facilities onshore.
  • Specific hazardous wastes in Senegal were identified to have no appropriate disposal point in the country. These were managed in accordance with the Basel Convention on transfrontier shipment of such wastes.
Routine drilling and seismic operations

Marine pollution due to discharges to sea.

  • Sewage from MODUs and support vessels had been treated and discharged in strict compliance with International Convention for the Prevention of Pollution from Ships (MARPOL) requirements (Annex IV Prevention of Pollution by Sewage from Ships).
  • Organic kitchen waste was treated and discharged to sea in strict compliance with MARPOL requirements (Annex V Prevention of Pollution by Garbage from Ships).
  • Water-based mud (WBM) only was used by Cairn for the drilling campaign in Senegal and drill cuttings had been treated prior to being discharged to sea under approval from the regulatory authority. WBM is discharged to sea when spent.
  • Drilling fluids were recirculated and unused, but pre-mixed drilling fluids were retained on the MODU for use on subsequent wells by Cairn.
  • No discharge of hydrocarbon-contaminated cuttings or drilling fluids to sea.
  • The majority of WBM chemicals are considered as Pose Little or No Risk (PLONOR) chemicals. Where non-PLONOR chemicals had been required for operational or safety reasons, their use and discharge was strictly monitored and minimised to the greatest extent possible and are approved by the country regulator.
  • Bilges and contaminated drainage water had been treated and discharged in strict compliance with MARPOL requirements (Annex I Regulations for the Prevention of Pollution by Oil).
  • Ballast discharges complied with International Maritime Organization (IMO) guidelines.
Non-routine operations

Marine pollution from a large fuel spill due to vessel collision or re-fuelling incident. Two very minor releases to environment in 2015 (both <1 litres – oil from flare out and chemical during tank cleaning)

  • A safety exclusion zone was maintained at 500m from the MODU.
  • A vessel was on standby at all times, monitoring transit/fishing vessels within the area and maintaining the exclusion zone.
  • Early-warning radar and communication systems on board the standby vessel and MODU were used to identify and communicate with any approaching vessels.
  • Liaison with the shipping and fishing authorities and other fishing groups had been maintained.
  • The shipboard emergency response plans of the MODU and supply/support vessels had been verified by Cairn for adequacy to respond to the potential collision threat.
  • Strict refuelling procedures.
  • Port contingency plans.
  • Tier 1 response kit onboard MODU, standby vessels and port facilities, supplemented by shoreline response package.
  • Personnel trained in spill response.
  • Vessel collision and refuelling incident scenario covered in the Oil Spill Contingency Plan (OSCP).
Non-routine drilling operations

Uncontrolled release of reservoir fluids (hydrocarbons) during the well blow-out. No incidents in 2015.

  • Drilling activities followed established drilling safety and design standards to minimise the risk of well-control loss. Includes independent verification of well designs.
  • A shallow gas survey was undertaken.
  • Experienced crew trained in well-control techniques and supervision.
  • Emergency drills were held regularly.
  • Well design and construction were reviewed by an independent well examiner.
  • Blow-out preventer in place and regularly maintained and tested.
  • Tiered emergency response plans, OSCP and oil spill response equipment were in place.

Total number of IUCN Red List species and national conservation list species with habitats in areas affected by operations, by level of extinction risk

Area of operations Geographical location; type of operation IUCN Red List species
Senegal, Sangomar deep offshore

Approximately 85km from the nearest coast, in water depths ranging from 800m to 2,000m.

Exploration drilling (SNE-2 and SNE-3).

Our Environmental and Social Impact Assessment (ESIA) indicated that five marine turtle species have been recorded in Senegal waters, and nesting in the Saloum Delta and around the Cape Verde peninsula: the hawksbill turtle (Eretmochelys imbricata) and the leatherback turtle (Dermochelys coriacea) both critically ‘endangered’; green turtle (Chelonia mydas) and loggerhead turtle (Caretta caretta) both ‘endangered’ on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species; and the olive ridley turtle (Lepidochelys olivacea). The nesting periods of green and leatherback turtles overlap with the time of the proposed drilling operations (March, and December to February respectively).

Senegal, Sangomar offshore and Rufisque offshore blocks

Blocks run from shore south of Dakar to Joal-Fadiouth to the south and offshore to border Sangomar deep.

Seismic shot nearest location 16km from coastal region of Le Petite Côte, 23km from Dakar and 28km from Rufisque. Water depths from 20m to 1,500m m over approximately 2,300km2.

Our baseline environmental report indicated the Atlantic chub makerel (Scomber japonicas) migrates along the West African coast and is listed as a species of ‘least concern’ as is skipjack tuna (Katsuwonus pelamis) which aggregates in upwelling areas. The bigeye tuna (Thunnus obesus) and Atlantic bluefin tuna (Thunnus thynnus) are rated as ‘vulnerable’ and ‘endangered’ respectively and are both present in Senegalese waters. A total of 29 cetaceans may occur in Senegalese waters. Of the five IUCN listed species Sei whale (Balaenoptera borealis) and fin whale (Balaenoptera physalus) are both ‘endangered’ but were unlikely to be present during operations. The blue whale (Balaenoptera musculus) is ‘endangered’ and a possible visitors; the Atlantic humpback whale (Sousa teuzii) and sperm whale (Physeter phonocena) are both’vulnerable’ and more likely visitors. The critically endangered pinniped Mediterranean monk seal (Monchus monachus), has been recorded as a ‘vagrant’ but was not expected in the location. See also above for turtles.

Spanish Point (FEL 2/04), Spanish Point (FEL 4/08) North and FEL 1/14 Porcupine Basin, offshore Republic of Ireland

No operations in 2015

NA

Offshore Malta 1,2 and 3 (Area 3 licence)

No operations in 2015

NA

UK offshore Scylla, licence P2149 (block 9/6).

No operations in 2015

NA

Pitu offshore Greenland licence 2011/13

No operations in 2015

NA

Number and percentage of significant operating sites in which biodiversity risk has been assessed and monitored

Cairn activities in 2015 were assessed as not requiring development of project-specific Biodiversity Action Plans (BAPs) – all biodiversity-related mitigation measures were incorporated into the Environmental Management Plans (EMPs).

Location Area of operations* Percentage of operating sites assessed for biodiversity risks Significance of biodiversity risks BAPs implemented and monitored
Senegal, Sangomar Deep 2,781km2 100% No risk to biodiversity from routine operations. No BAP developed; biodiversity-protection measures incorporated into ESMP and monitored as part of operational performance.
Senegal Sangomar, Senegal Rufisque 2,300km2 100% No risk to biodiversity from routine operations. No BAP developed; biodiversity-protection measures incorporated into ESMP and monitored as part of operational performance.

* defined as area of licence block.