As Arctic ice quickly succumbs to summer sun, several major energy companies are eagerly awaiting the opportunity to make good use of open ocean for exploration. Shell Oil, Norwegian geoscience company TGS, and SAExploration have all submitted requests to the Bureau of Ocean and Energy Management to conduct seismic exploration projects this summer.
hose requests are pending, awaiting permits from BOEM and approval from other federal organizations like U.S. Fish and Wildlife and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. While they haven’t been given the go ahead at this point, all of these projects are slated to start in July should the permits be granted.
While many in Alaska are eager to herald continued investment in the state’s oil and gas industry, others are concerned about the potential short- and long-term impact of exploration activities like seismic reflection.
A large ship towing an array of powerful air guns typically executes a seismic survey.
“(They) generate sound waves by firing off explosive blasts of air,” states an Alaska Marine Conservation Council release. “The sound waves are reflected off the seafloor and create a picture of underwater geological formations. A typical seismic survey lasts 2 to 3 weeks and covers a range of about 300-600 miles. The intensity of sound waves produced by the firing of seismic air guns can reach up to 250 decibels (dB) near the source and can be as high as 117 dB over 20 miles away. The sound intensity produced by a jackhammer is around 120 dB, which can damage human ears in as little as 15 seconds.”
Read the full story at the Alaska Dispatch>>