Managing environmental impacts and seismic surveys
Strong partnerships, sound research and transparency are the key elements of Woodside's approach to the environment,
30 years of scientific research
Awarded the Environment Project Excellence Award at APPEA
Funded research has resulted in over 20 papers in international peer-reviewed scientific journals
Woodside harms precious marine life and damages important reef systems.
Strong partnerships, sound research and transparency are the key elements of Woodside's approach to the environment, all of our activities including seismic surveys are conducted under strict Australian and international regulations and management controls. These controls include measures designed to reduce the risk of potential impacts to whales and other marine fauna.
Whales and Woodside
Woodside has a proud history of safe and reliable operations off the north-west coast of Western Australia, underpinned by extensive environmental impact management and research. We understand that our activities have an environmental footprint, and we work hard to prevent or minimise impacts to the natural environment where we live and work.
For more than 30 years, Woodside has worked with leading research organisations and industry bodies on scientific studies to better understand the environment where we operate. This reinforces our approach to biodiversity and broader environmental management.
Woodside has been supporting pygmy blue whale research since the early 2000s through partnerships with the Australian Institute of Marine Science (AIMS), the Australian Antarctic Division and the Centre for Whale research AIMS is Australia’s tropical marine research agency and renowned for its global science excellence.
In 2023 we were awarded the Environment Project Excellence Award at the APPEA Conference & Exhibition for “scientific innovation and collaboration enabling effective management of pygmy blue whales in Australia’s northwest”.
For more information on our approach to environmental management, please read our case studies and our 2022 and 2021 Sustainable Development Reports.
The environmental impact assessment completed for the Scarborough project applies environmental management controls to avoid or eliminate impacts to the marine environment. These controls include:
- Location of the nearshore trunkline (pipeline) and shore-crossing within or adjacent to pre-disturbed areas to avoid sensitive marine habitats;
- An adaptive marine environmental monitoring and management program to ensure Scarborough will not result in any loss of coral in coastal waters;
- Monitoring and management measures to avoid or minimise impacts to protected marine fauna such as turtles and whales.
Marine seismic surveys are common around the world and have been safely used by industry for decades.
Seismic surveys are typically used to identify potential oil and gas reservoirs, but they have other applications.
Seismic surveys can identify reservoirs suitable for storing carbon dioxide to prevent it entering the atmosphere and contributing to climate change.
Marine seismic surveys are carried out by specialised ships that tow an array of acoustic sources and receivers across a defined area.
Woodside’s seismic surveys are conducted under strict Australian and international regulations and management controls.
These controls include measures designed to reduce the risk of potential impacts to whales and other marine fauna.
Available evidence shows that, when properly planned and mitigated, seismic surveys do not result in impacts to marine fauna populations, although the seismic sound source has the potential to temporarily affect an individual whale's hearing, behaviours and communication.
Woodside has invested in more than 30 years of scientific research with partners such as the Australian Institute of Marine Science to help inform our approach to seismic surveying and the measures we use to reduce impacts to the marine environment.
These measures form an integral part of Woodside's Environment Plans, which are developed over a number of years and are assessed by NOPSEMA - Australia’s offshore oil and gas industry regulator.
These measures include:
designing the survey to limit impacts in environmentally sensitive areas,
avoiding migration and breeding seasons for sound-sensitive marine species,
deploying marine fauna observers to ensure work is paused if marine mammals are detected close to the survey vessel; and
implementing no-go zones adjacent to biodiverse offshore reefs.
Industry collaboration, new technology and scientific research continues to improve the way our industry conducts seismic surveys.
Environment Plan Consultation
Woodside consults extensively on its environment plans.
The purpose of consultation is to consult relevant persons who are potentially affected by activities and consider their input in the development of environment plans. By way of example, consultation on the Seismic EP began 31 August 2021, including a NOPSEMA initiated public comment period from 17 October 2021. Upon the establishment of new case law referenced above, the Woodside team adapted our longstanding consultation approach requiring a broad and far-reaching effort.
Click here to view a list of Woodside's current consultation activities.