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Balkanide 3D Seismic Project
This is a summary of the progress of the project as of December 6th, 2016.
Goal Zero (days): 56 days (since the start of the mobilization of the vessel)
Survey completed to date: 69.5%
Oceanic Endeavour: Acquired 84.54 km2 (cumulative 3545.97 km2) full fold data.
Bourbon Grebe: on station with the Endeavour.
Miranda: on station with the Endeavour.
Stormhav: on station with the Endeavour.
Shipping & fishing: Good communication with Burgas Traffic Centre. Passing traffic given clear instructions to avoid equipment under tow. No fishing activities.
The Oceanic Endeavour in the Port of Varna
Following a long preparation period focused on ensuring all necessary project standards and controls were in place, the start of operations covered a six day mobilization phase of both the crew and the “Oceanic Endeavour” vessel operated by CGG, a global seismic contractor.
This involved two days of HSSE inspections and meetings in the port of Varna for all vessels involved in the operation to verify the fleet was ready for operations, with four days of equipment deployment and testing in the offshore license area. Only after completing all the procedures applicable by Bulgarian law and Shell’s internal HSSE standards, the mission was allowed to commence to its final objective – acquiring the seismic data.
Prior to embarking to open seas, as per Shell internal regulations, the whole crew underwent various HSSE and operational drills, ensuring every person on board was fully aware of their roles and responsibilities. Some of those drills are still being carried out regularly also during operations.
During the mobilization period Shell hosted a visit of representatives of the Ministry of Energy and the vice rector of the Mining and Geology University in Sofia on the vessel, who were briefed on the project details and were able to observe directly that the “Oceanic Endeavour” is equipped with all the necessary prerequisites for carrying out a successful and safe survey.
The Seismic Vessel
The “Oceanic Endeavour” is one of the 7 seismic vessels currently active in the CGG global fleet. It was built in 2008 with the purpose of gathering seismic data and as such has been equipped with all the latest technologies for sailing in deep waters and making geological surveys. Its crew of 60-80 people and their Captain are seasoned professionals who have extensive experience operating similar operations all over the world, including surveys in the Black Sea in recent years.
Besides being one of the best available options on the market for conducting seismic surveys, the “Oceanic Endeavour” is also equipped with an onboard portative hospital unit and a medical team with a 24/7 access to specialized physicians and surgeons via satellite link to assist the team on board in case of need.
Who is On Board
Also, aboard the vessel are present 4 Marine Mammal Observers (MMOs) and one Fishing Liaison Officer (FLO). In line with Shell’s intent to involve local work force in its operations, thus to create employment opportunities for local professionals, four Bulgarians have been dedicated to the project. Among them are two fully trained Bulgarian Marine Mammal Observers, whom Shell enrolled in special qualification courses giving them the unique opportunity to become the first licensed Marine Mammal Observers in the country.
While the MMOs role is to observe the marine mammals, the Fishing Liaison Officer, employed directly by the seismic contractor CGG, is responsible for communication with other vessels in the vicinity of the seismic ship, making sure the paths of the vessels don’t interfere.
In addition to the non-ship personnel, the contractor CGG has arranged for 1 (one) representative from the Bulgarian Navy to be on board throughout to assist the crew with tasks requiring alignment with the activities of the Navy Fleet.
The Support Crew
Since the “Oceanic Endeavour” needs to be in constant motion and maintain a speed of at least 4 knots (ca. 8 km/h), it is being serviced by three additional support vessels – (the Bourbon Grebe, the Stormhav and the Miranda). Their primary role is in the execution of crew changes, refueling and resupply of essential provisions and equipment. They will also escort the main vessel and provide an essential buffer zone to other marine traffic that might be in the area.
The duration of the geological surveys is estimated to take three months, meaning it should end mid-January 2017. During that period, we will regularly update the information about the mission, which includes aspects of the project.