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Environmental Monitoring


April 2014 Issue

DNV GL Makes EAL Service Available
DNV GL (Høvik, Norway) has responded to regulations mandating the use of environmentally friendly and quickly degradable lubricants in U.S. waters with a new service. The EAL Report Service helps ship operators to meet the new regulations without the need for extensive outlays and provides feedback on areas of concern.

The Vessel General Permit framework, which came into effect in December 2013, stipulates that biologically degradable oils, or environmentally acceptable lubricants, be used at all oil-to-sea interfaces where technically feasible. All ships with a total length of 24 meters or more that enter U.S. waters must observe the new environmental standard.

Numerous components in the underwater area of a ship are impacted by the new rules, including the stern tube seal, mechanical components in the propeller, bow thrusters, the rudder shaft and other underwater equipment.

Toxicity Tests to Reduce Risk to Marine Environments
Toxicity tests developed by Aberdeen, Scotland-based microbiology and chemical analysis specialists NCIMB, have been recommended by the Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) as part of the preferred approach to the U.K.'s implementation of a risk-based approach (RBA) to testing of water discharges produced by offshore installations.

The recommendation for an RBA, which combines examination of the exposure resulting from produced water discharge and the sensitivity of the environment, was adopted by OSPAR in 2012, with full implementation to be achieved by December 31, 2018. OSPAR manages international cooperation on the protection of the marine environment of the northeast Atlantic.

While companies have already begun chemical analysis as part of the biannual testing program, toxicity testing is a new requirement. NCIMB's MARA and LumiMARA bioassays, which include an array of carefully selected microorganisms, have been recommended in preference to single-species microbial testing. The microorganisms provide a rapid and cost-effective analysis of produced water toxicity and have been tested on samples from 15 offshore installations as part of a wider DECC-coordinated study to assess the role of whole effluent toxicity testing.

MultiClient Surveys in Côte D'Ivoire
Petroleum Geo-Services (PGS), based in Oslo, Norway, with local partner Laguna and in cooperation with Petroci (Abidjan, Ivory Coast), is currently acquiring 2,300 square kilometers of MultiClient 3D GeoStreamer data over blocks CI-506 and CI-507, offshore Côte d'Ivoire. The new MultiClient 3D GeoStreamer data will cover part of western offshore C'te d'Ivoire, a frontier area that is located within the larger Atlantic Equatorial Transform Margin.

In cooperation with the operators, PGS/Laguna has also recently completed the acquisition of 1,500 square kilometers of MultiClient 3D GeoStreamer data over blocks CI-12 and CI-501, offshore C'te d'Ivoire. This new MultiClient 3D GeoStreamer data covers both shallow and deepwater acreage.

Recent discoveries clearly show a trend toward deeper water and post-rift targets. Fields such as Jubilee (2007) and Paon (2012) have successfully demonstrated the greater opportunities in post-rift, Late Cretaceous turbidite fan systems in 2,000-meter water depths.

The Côte d'Ivoire surveys build on the existing PGS MultiClient 3D and 2D seismic data sets in the region and help to reduce the risk of exploration projects in the area. The technology enables better geological modeling with less reliance on well data, and lends improved prospect definition and identification.

Remnants of Exxon Valdez Oil Protected by Boulders
Twenty-five years after the Exxon Valdez oil spill in Prince William Sound, beaches on the Alaska Peninsula hundreds of kilometers from the incident still harbor small, hidden pockets of surprisingly unchanged oil, according to new research.

The focus of the study was to learn how oil persists long after a spill. The researchers caution that the amount of oil being studied was a trace of what was originally spilled and that results from these sites cannot be simply extrapolated to the entire spill area.

The rocky, high-energy coastlines in the Shelikof Strait, southwest of the spill, contain small remnants of the spill, which appear to be protected by a stable boulder, according to Gail Irvine of the U.S. Geological Survey's Alaska Science Center.

The oil was positively identified as that from the Exxon Valdez by chemists at NOAA's Auke Bay Laboratory and in Christopher Reddy's lab at Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, which specializes in investigating oil spills of all kinds—particularly those that are decades old.

Findings from the study include where oil can persist and what chemical compounds in the oil are more and less durable.

Scientists Train Next Generation on Oil Spill Research
As part of ongoing research nearly four years after the Deepwater Horizon oil spill, scientists from the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI) teamed up with a group of high-school students in Florida to collect remnants of oil from Gulf Coast beaches.

Marine chemist Chris Reddy studies how the many compounds that compose petroleum hydrocarbon, or oil, behave and change over time after an oil spill. He and his researchers have collected and analyzed about 1,000 oil samples from the Gulf Coast since the Deepwater Horizon oil spill.

How the compounds react and weather in the environment also can help inform the chemical industry, governments and clean-up efforts when future oil spills occur.

The group of students worked alongside Reddy's team and colleagues from the Florida State University at a Pensacola, Florida, beach. This field expedition was part of a new education initiative called the Gulf Oil Observers (GOO), which trains volunteers to be effective citizen scientists. GOO mentors are educators and scientists associated with the Deep-C Consortium research project.


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