Offshore pipelines (sealines) represent a safe and environmental friendly technology for the transportation of hydrocarbons. The technical community has dedicated a significant effort in the evaluation of environmental issues relevant to offshore fixed installations such as platforms and terminals. Minor attention has been paid to the environmental aspects relevant to offshore pipelines particularly in open sea condition. The authors have focused their attention in the identification, assessment and evaluation of environmental impacts relevant to sealines in open sea conditions. Technical and safety requirements may require the sealines either to be trenched or exposed, resting on the seabed. The environmental effects relevant to the trenched configuration are assessed and are compared against the environmental setting of the work areas. The paper addresses environmental aspects relevant to the trenching operations in view of minimizing environmental impacts on the surroundings, taking into account safety aspects as well, and disregarding economical aspects related to the two options. The aim of the paper is to outline environmental issues in order to provide the technical community with a further tool to be applied during the design decision process.

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