Oil industry says seismic surveys don't kill dolphins
The oil industry is rejecting suggestions by the federal government that seismic surveying for fossil fuels in the ocean puts dolphins in danger.
In a call with reporters on Thursday, Andy Radford, an offshore senior policy adviser at the American Petroleum Institute, said the use of seismic surveys is safe to marine life and vital to the industry. Seismic surveys are essentially ultrasounds of the Earth to locate fossil fuel reserves beneath the surface.
A new draft rule released by the National Oceanic Atmospheric Administration this week included rules that would require shutting down surveying operations for dolphins.
"There is nothing to justify the need for these restrictions," he said.
Radford said there is no evidence that using seismic surveying in the Gulf of Mexico has harmed marine life in the area, nor has it resulted in physical or auditory injury to marine mammals. He said oil companies work to make sure seismic surveys are designed to have little impact on marine life.
Using seismic surveying to find fossil fuels below the ocean has led to huge increases in oil production since the late 1980s, Radford said.
"In 1987, the Minerals Management Service estimated 9.57 billion barrels of recoverable oil resources in the Gulf of Mexico," he said. "With more recent seismic data acquisition and additional exploratory drilling, and technological advances that estimate rose in 2011 to 48.4 billion barrels of oil — a fivefold increase."
Radford also disagreed with the Obama administration's proposal to space out seismic surveys.
The government wants to require oil companies have a 25-mile distance between seismic surveys being conducted at the same time. He said that would "slightly reduce" any potential impact to marine life and it's not clear how effective it would be.
Government plans to cut seismic surveying are also an issue, he said.
"We are also deeply troubled by proposals to reduce the overall number of seismic surveys performed in the Gulf of Mexico by 10 and 25 percent," Radford said. "This is problematic for several reasons including potentially lower production in the future, but mainly the potential economic impact on the Gulf of Mexico region because of the seismic surveys that will not be performed and as a result wells that will not be drilled.
"These reductions would likely have a negative effect on the regional economy and our industry's ability to create jobs."