Academics and Oil Majors Partner to Protect Against Spills
The Australian Institute of Marine Science (AIMS), Shell Development (Australia) and INPEX Operations Australia have announced a unique partnership to develop comprehensive environmental baselines to monitor the health of waters off North Western Australia.
This partnership also incorporates comprehensive plans for monitoring the marine environment in the unlikely event of loss of containment from either Shell's Prelude or INPEX's Ichthys Project wells. AIMS is the lead Operational and Scientific Monitoring Program (OSMP) contractor in a partnership bringing together AIMS, the University of Western Australia, Curtin University, ChemCentre and Monash University.
"We absolutely have the capability and experience, together with our partners, to deliver independent analysis and monitoring which is now required by law by the Government of Australia," said AIMS research director, Dr Jamie Oliver.
As a condition of approval by the Federal Department of Environment (DoE), both Shell Development (Australia) and INPEX are required to develop an OSMP prior to the commencement of production drilling activities in the Browse Basin, 450 km north of Broome and 200 km offshore from the Kimberly coast in North West Australia.
"We are delighted to have established this collaborative partnership between industry and the scientific community," said Mike Seymour, Shell Australia's general manager for health, safety, environment and social performance. "The OSMP will help us further understand the marine environment in the Browse Basin and enables a pre-planned spill response and monitoring capability that we can call upon in the unlikely event of a significant spill."
"This partnership is another element of INPEX's oil spill response preparedness whereby we will be able to draw on the expertise of Australia's leading research scientists and institutes to monitor and report on any potential impacts arising from such an event," said INPEX president director Australia, Seiya Ito.
The Shell operated Prelude gas field is 15km away from the INPEX operated Ichthys gas-condensate field. With the similar ecology and overlapping zones of potential influence, the companies have agreed to jointly fund the development of an OSMP that is suitable for deployment at either field.
"This partnership with AIMS and their R&D partners will help not only assist the oil and gas industries in their own work but also help better understand the Browse Basin environment. We are looking forward to this opportunity to work with industry more closely to better protect our oceans and coast," concluded Dr Oliver.