ENVIRONMENTAL IMPACT STATEMENT FOR OFFSHORE DRILLING LICENCES PL032 & PL033 THE FALKLAND ISLANDS

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Nov 8, 2013 (3 years and 5 months ago)

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EOE0612 – Rockhopper PL032 and 033
ENVIRONMENTAL IMPACT STATEMENT FOR

OFFSHORE DRILLING

LICENCES PL032 & PL033

THE FALKLAND ISLANDS

ON BEHALF OF

ROCKHOPPER EXPLORATION PLC

Report No. : EOE0612 RPS Energy,
Goldsworth House,
Author(s) : D. Williams, I. Wilson Denton Way, Goldsworth Park,
S. Shah Woking, Surrey, GU21 3LG, UK.
B. Elsaesser T +44 (0)1483 746500
Approved : S. McKelvie F +44 (0)1483 746505
Date : September 2008 E rpsenergy@rpsgroup.com
Revised : February 2009 W www.rpsgroup.com
EOE0612 – Rockhopper PL032 and 033
NON TECHNICAL SUMMARY

Background
Rockhopper Exploration PLC (Rockhopper) is a UK company set up in 2004 to explore for oil
and gas in the Falkland Islands. Rockhopper hold four Licences in the North Falkland Basin;
PL023, PL024, PL032 and PL033, together with a smaller interest in two other licence areas.

Licences PL032 and PL033 were granted to Rockhopper in May 2005, covering an area of
some 1620 km
2
.The blocks were previously held and drilled by Shell.

This Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) provides an assessment of the potential
environmental impacts associated with the proposed drilling in Licences PL032 and PL033,
together with mitigation and management measures and a description of any residual impacts
to the environment. The assessment utilises a study of the baseline environment, together with
a description of the proposed operations, in order to assess the risk of impacts occurring.

Rockhopper intend to drill up to three wells in their licence area. A semi-submersible rig is most
likely to be used for these operations. Semi-submersibles float in deep water and provide a
stable platform to allow drilling of the sea floor. A typical deep sea semi-submersible drilling rig
has dimensions of approximately 90 m by 80 m with a draught of about 30 m. A conventional
rotary drilling system via top drive will be used to drill the wells.

All chemicals to be used during the drilling have been selected to minimise the potential
environmental impacts as much as possible. The vast majority (by volume) of planned
chemicals have a Harmonised Offshore Chemical Notification Scheme (HOCNS) category of ‘E’
(which are of low aqua toxicity, readily biodegradable and non-bioaccumulative) and are
naturally occurring products (e.g. barite) that are either biologically inert or readily dispersible or
biodegradable.

The wells will be drilled vertically to a maximum total depth (TD) of around approximately
3500 m, with wireline logging programmes conducted in order to evaluate the geological
formations. In the event that hydrocarbons are identified in any of the targeted sandstones,
cores will also be taken. It is not likely that any well testing will be undertaken, however
inclusions for possible well testing have been included in this report. Upon completion of the TD
data acquisition programme the wells will most likely be permanently abandoned.

Existing Environment
The Patagonian Shelf, on which the Falkland Islands sit, is of regional and global significance
for marine resources. It comprises rich assemblages of seabirds, marine mammals, fish, squid
and plankton populations.

This area of the North Falkland Basin was drilled by a consortium of oil companies in 1998,
including two wells drilled within Licence PL032. An EIA was carried out prior to drilling and
identified significant gaps in the level of environmental data for this area. As a result of this, a
number of environmental studies were commissioned, focussing primarily on the North Falkland
Basin.

Seismic data has been acquired and processed to provide detailed seabed topography for this
area, although no additional environmental monitoring or seabed sampling has been carried
out. The existence of comprehensive pre and post-drill benthic sampling from the 1998
campaign provides sufficient baseline data for the assessment of potential impacts within this
EIS, although it should be recognised that environmental information around the Falkland
Islands remains sparse and any further environmental data acquired by the Operators during
the proposed drilling campaign will prove extremely valuable.
EOE0612 – Rockhopper PL032 and 033

Earlier benthic sampling indicated natural uncontaminated sediments with typical or low
background concentrations of metals and hydrocarbons. In general the environmental survey
revealed a relatively homogeneous macrofauna in a relatively homogenous environment.

The main fisheries resources in the Falkland Islands are the squid species, Illex argentinus and
Loligo gahi.The existing finfish fishery targets predominantly hake, hoki, red cod and blue
whiting. A specialised small ray fishery exists, and a small longline fishery operates targeting
Patagonian toothfish. The FIG annual Fisheries Statistics volume 11 (1997–2006) indicate that
the offshore licence areas are not within any large catch (by volume) locations for the key
species. No significant levels of catches exist within the PL032 and PL033. Shellfish are not an
important component of the commercial fishery, although this may be developed in future.

A wide range of marine mammals occur in the waters around the Falkland Islands. Based on
the 1998–2001 survey results, of the 14 cetacean species likely to be present in Falkland
Islands waters, none were observed within the licence area. Sperm whale were recorded a
short distance to the north of PL032 and PL033, although they are less likely to be found in the
shallower waters of the licence area. Hourglass and Peale’s dolphins were recorded within
relatively close proximity to the area of interest and it is probable that certain cetacean species
present may move through the licences. Overall, PL032 and PL033 are not considered to be an
area of particularly high sensitivity for cetaceans.

Based on seal observations over the same period only the South American fur seal is likely to
be encountered within the licence area, however it should be noted that survey coverage is
patchy and this does not discount the potential presence of any of the above species in these
blocks. It is however unlikely that any species of pinniped will be found in significant numbers in
the area. Based on the distribution survey and further descriptions in relevant literature, the
licence area is therefore not considered to be of particular sensitivity for pinnipeds.

The Falkland Islands are an area of global importance for birdlife, particularly seabird species.
The avifauna of the region is well studied and documented, and seabird distribution, breeding
and foraging patterns have been studied extensively. The IUCN Red List classifies 24 species
as threatened with seven species as ‘Endangered’ – the highest level of conservation status.
Due to the considerable distance of the licence blocks from the Falkland Islands, this area is not
considered to be highly sensitive for birdlife, although a number of species are likely to be seen
in this area, including species of penguin, albatross, petrel, fulmar, prion and shearwater. Other
seabirds including shags, ducks, skuas, gulls and terns occur in the nearshore areas outside of
the licence Blocks, however these are also considered within this EIS due to the potential for
nearshore impacts from support operations. Due to the vulnerable nature of many of these
species it should also be recognised that any impacts to food or habitats may prove significant
for population numbers and near-shore areas to the landward side of the licence area are
considered particularly vulnerable.

Impacts and Management Measures
Significant environmental sensitivities identified in the licence areas are the highly important
seabird populations, presence of marine mammals and fisheries interests. In addition, the
benthic (seafloor) habitat is considered to be both sensitive to disturbance and relatively
unstudied, although benthic surveys have previously demonstrated a relatively homogeneous
(uniform) macrofauna in a relatively homogenous environment, with no significant indication of
pollution from previous drilling.

Outside of the licence areas, the near shore and coastal environments are considered to be
sensitive to any forms of pollution.

The results of the environmental impact assessment of the drilling programme indicate that
EOE0612 – Rockhopper PL032 and 033
there are potential impacts which relate to waste management. Minimising the potential impact
caused by waste issues can be achieved by implementing policies such as reuse, segregation
and storage. Negative impacts will arise from onshore disposal, especially should this be at the
Falklands where the capacity will be limited. Economic flow ons from the project will have
positive impacts.

The sources of potential impacts include drill cuttings disposal, the risk of large offshore and
near-shore oilspills, international transfer of solid and hazardous wastes and use of resources
(i.e. fuel and potable water) should they be sourced from the Falklands. All other sources of
potential impacts were deemed to be of low significance.

The potential impacts of these operations will be mitigated in a number of ways, including:

￿ Maintaining a spirit of openness and ongoing consultation with the Falkland Islands
Government (FIG), the public and key stakeholders.
￿ Applying international best practice and established UK standards to operations,
particularly in offshore chemical use and emissions reporting.
￿ Using only water based drilling muds and low toxicity chemicals approved under the UK
Offshore Chemical Notification Scheme.
￿ Implementing a high level of environmental management offshore and applying
environmental procedures for potentially impacting operations (chemical storage,
bunkering, waste handling, maintenance programmes, seafloor surveys etc).
￿ Monitoring and reporting consumption and emission figures in accordance with the UK
Environmental Emissions Monitoring System (EEMS).
￿ Establishing and implementing a project specific Oil Spill Response Plan and carrying
out training of key personnel in spill response. Employing an oil spill response contractor
to provide outside assistance in the case of a major spill.
￿ Implementing a detailed waste management plan to minimise the quantity of waste
going to landfill, prevent unsuitable disposal of waste, maximise the re-use of materials
and establish the Best Practicable Environmental Option (BPEO) for storage, treatment,
transfer and disposal of waste materials.
￿ Collecting and sharing environmental data wherever possible, for example in offshore
sightings, seabed surveys and metocean conditions.

A more detailed description of recommended mitigation measures and environmental
management is provided in Sections 8 and 9 of this report.