By Chip Gill
There is much debate over the recent release of the government’s final Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) that may allow seismic surveys in the mid and south Atlantic.
Claims that seismic surveys are the gateway to oil and gas development and cause serious harm to marine life are not accurate. For 40 years, the industry has consistently demonstrated its ability to conduct seismic explorations in an environmentally responsible manner.
Environmental stewardship is an industry value and priority.
Some oppose seismic surveys, asserting they lead to drilling, which is not necessarily the case. Seismic surveys do not inevitably lead to drilling — that is a policy decision. That policy decision should be made based on the best possible information, and right now we don’t have that.
The last Atlantic surveys were conducted more than 30 years ago. The government is considering the use of seismic surveys because they are the only feasible technology available to update old information and accurately image the subsurface, allowing policymakers to evaluate the potential resource base.
Seismic surveys reduce safety and environmental risks and should be considered the preferred environmental management tool to prevent drilling “dry holes” (where there is little to no oil or gas) and avoid inefficient recovery from producing fields.
The administration advocates an “all-of-the-above” U.S. energy approach. Seismic surveys are necessary in determining where oil and gas are underlying the Atlantic and just as importantly for siting offshore renewable projects.
Seismic survey technology is a part of the solution, not the problem.
Chip Gill is President of the International Association of Geophysical Contractors