But we recognise that any operation we carry out – such as conducting surveys – can have an impact on the surrounding area. That is why we complete extensive environmental studies, and apply that knowledge in our plans before a seismic survey begins. We also engage with communities that may be affected. We aim to address their concerns and together work out how to best conduct a survey that minimises impact and maximises benefits. In some cases, this work could mean conducting surveys at certain times of the year or even suspending operations if wildlife is spotted in the area.
Scientific studies and technical reviews indicate that the potential for harm to various benthic (bottom dwelling) organisms, fish and marine mammals from exposure to acoustic energy from seismic sources is very low and only occurs when the animals are in close proximity (around two meters) to the seismic source.
Partnership with the Marine Mammal Observer Association (MMOA)
In the case of the Balkanide 3D seismic survey Shell has formed a partnership with the world renowned Marine Mammal Observes Association and adopted the Marine Mammal Observer Association’s (MMOA) Position Statements and best hiring guide for contracting suitably qualified Marine Mammal Observers (MMOs) and Passive Acoustic Monitoring (PAM) Operators.
This meant that during the tendering phase of the project Shell utilized the MMOA position statements and analysed CVs from multiple agencies and took preference in their selection by favouring evidence for:
- Relevant academic qualifications and experience in marine mammal surveys/research demonstrating a professional interest in the role;
- Candidates who demonstrate Continuous Professional Development (CPD);
- Candidates associated and involved with the MMOA;
- Candidates with Registered/Chartered status;
- Previous Black Sea experience.
The commitment by the company was acknowledged by the MMOA in an official statement on their website.