Shell Exploration B.V. (Guatemala) signed a production sharing contract with the Ministry of Energy and Mines in November 1990 to explore a 3000 km2 area including Lake Izabal. Halliburton Geophysical Services has been awarded the contract on May 16 to acquire 500 km of 2D Seismic with a Digiseis cableless system for both land and shallow water work.

The contract area is environmentally very sensitive and public awareness of the need for environmental protection is very high due to adverse effects of earlier exploration and production activities.

Contacts with the different environmental organizations are complex and a good understanding of their roles and motivations is essential to secure acceptability of operations.

A good preparation, including establishment of clear objectives, principles and guidelines incorporated into a Master Plan for Health, Safety and Environment is critical to achieve a smooth start in such an environmentally sensitive area.

Government approval of an Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) is a legal requirement in Guatemala before starting any project. It proved, however, difficult to achieve a consensus about impacting/non impacting activities, and about the format and contents of the document.

Archaeology is also a critical issue.

Although the extensive preparatory work was necessary to secure the feasibility of the whole operation, it is expected to provide windfall benefits in the form of improved performance of the seismic crew in all domains.

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