Biodiversity

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

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 during 2016 (SNE-3, SNE-4 and BEL-1).

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

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

See Figure 1.

Senegal, Sangomar offshore and Rufisque blocks

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

Water depths from 20m in near coastal waters to 1,500m over approximately 2,300km2 area.

No activities in 2016.

Ramsar site Saloum Delta Biosphere Reserve and National Park (43km on shore to east – see above). Magdalen 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.

See Figure 1.

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

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

No activities in 2016.

There are three offshore Special Areas of Conservation (SACs) in the locale of the survey area (Figure 2: Protected areas offshore Ireland). The closest is the Hovland Mound site.

The Hovland Mound site has been selected as a Special Area of Conservation 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 survey area 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 Licence 3)

Acreage spread from the east of Malta, through north to the west.

No activities in 2016.

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 in 2016.

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 situated some distance to the south west and Pobie Bank Reef and other features adjacent to the Shetland Coast.

Norway PL842 and PL856

PL842 lies offshore some 300km north of Trondheim.

Licence acquired in 2016, no activities.

PL856 lies offshore approximately 250km north east of Hammerfest.

Licence acquired in 2016, no activities.

PL842: No Ramsar sites lie within the block. Several Ramsar sites occur along the Norwegian coast, however, nearest landfall to PL842 is approximately 150km to the south east. OSPAR Marine Protected Areas lie approximately 200km south (Sularevet), 130km south south east (Inverryggen) and 170km east (Rostrevet). These are cold water coral reef areas. Other sensitive areas are shown in Figure 4.

PL856: No Ramsar sites lie within the block. The nearest OSAR Marine Protected Area appears to be Korallen, an area of cold water coral 250km south east of the block. Other sensitive areas are shown in Figure 5.

Pitu offshore Greenland, licence 2011/13

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

No activities in 2016.

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 6.

Figure 1: Protected areas in offshore Senegal

Protected areas in offshore Senegal

Figure 2: Protected areas offshore Ireland

Protected areas in offshore Ireland

Figure 3: Protected areas in Malta, Gozo

Protected areas in Malta, Gozo

Figure 4: Protected areas offshore Norway (PL842)

Protected areas offshore Norway (PL842)

Vulnerable biological resources in the analysis area of blocks 6609/5-11. The announced area for the APA 2015 (awarded 2016) is outlined in hatching. Spawning areas to fish species that are included in the overall vulnerability calculations are shown in brown, while remaining spawning areas are shown in black.
 

Figure 5: Protected areas offshore Norway (PL856)

Protected areas offshore Norway (PL856)

Vulnerable areas and/or biological resources in the analysis area of Princess (PL856) – block 7228/11
 

Figure 6: Protected areas offshore Greenland

Protected areas offshore Greenland

 

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

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 were 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. A minor oil spill due to flare-out occurred in 2016; rapid dispersion and evaporations resulted in minor temporal impact only.

Otherwise, 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.

Senegal, Sangomar offshore and Rufisque offshore blocks

3D seismic completed in 2015. Initial planning for benthic survey in 2016 only.

NA

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

Initial planning for a potential multi-client 3D survey in 2017. No activities.

NA

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

No activities in 2016.

NA

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

No activities in 2016.

NA

Norway

Licence awarded in 2016, no activities.

NA

Pitu offshore Greenland, licence 2011/13

No activities in 2016.

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.

The following measures were implemented, or planned for implementation, during the 2016 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.

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 stand-by at all times, monitoring transit/fishing vessels within the area and maintaining the exclusion zone.
  • Early-warning radar and communication systems on board the stand-by 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 a seismic vessel in addition to pre-notifications and liaison with fishing organisations.

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.

Disturbance of seabed habitats and associated fauna due to placement of seabed equipment.

  • Site survey had confirmed the absence of sensitive features at the proposed location. The rig used in 2016 was dynamically positioned and therefore was not anchored.
  • Discharge of drill cuttings to seabed caused localised smothering of benthic fauna.

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 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 efficiency combustion equipment during well test operations reduces GHG potential and oil drop out. Some oil drop out was experienced early in the Senegal testing but this was resolved with limited discharge.

Waste management.

  • All vessels and bases had a Waste Management Plan and a waste record book where waste volumes, types and disposal routes were recorded.
  • 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.

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 country. These were managed in accordance with the Basel Convention on transfrontier shipment of such wastes.

Marine pollution due to discharges to sea.

  • Sewage from MODUs and support vessels had been treated and discharged in strict compliance with 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.
  • Drilling fluids were re-circulated 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 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 IMO guidelines.
  • Flare-out resulted in minor discharge of oil to sea, rapid dispersion and evaporation gave temporal minor impact only.
Non-routine operations

Marine pollution from a large fuel spill due to vessel collision or re-fuelling incident.

  • A safety exclusion zone was maintained at 500m from the MODU.
  • A vessel was on stand-by at all times, monitoring transit/fishing vessels within the area and maintaining the exclusion zone.
  • Early-warning radar and communication systems on board the stand-by 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, stand-by 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.

Uncontrolled release of reservoir fluids (hydrocarbons) during the well blow-out.

  • 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 supervised.
  • 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.

Appraisal and Exploration Drilling (SEN-2, SNE-3 and BEL-1).

Our ESIA indicated 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 blocks

No operations in 2016

NA

Porcupine Basin, offshore Republic of Ireland

No operations in 2016

NA

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

No operations in 2016

NA

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

No operations in 2016

NA

Norway PL842 and PL856

No operations in 2016

NA

Pitu offshore Greenland, licence 2011/13

No operations in 2016

NA

 

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

Cairn activities in 2016 were assessed as not requiring development of project-specific Biodiversity Action Plans (BAPs) – all biodiversity-related mitigation measures were incorporated into the Environmental & Social Management Plans (ESMPs).

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% Low risk to biodiversity from routine operations. No BAP developed; biodiversity-protection measures incorporated into ESMP and monitored as part of operational performance.

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