Recent years have seen an increasing recognition in the oil and gas industry of the need to incorporate cultural heritage as a consideration when assessing the likely impact of operations and production on the environment. This paper presents a recent case study relating to Shell's exploration of the Sirte Basin in central northern Libya during 2007-2009. The approaches taken to establishing the archaeological baseline over such a large and remote area, and the measures used to protect archaeologically significant sites during subsequent seismic surveys provide an example of cultural heritage can be accommodated in oil and gas operations successfully. Key steps in the process were: the collection of desk-based information, the application of remote sensing, selective and targeted ground truthing and the creation of sensitivity mapping which formed the basis for the implementation of a mitigation strategy. It is acknowledged that the techniques used were appropriate to an arid environment and need to be adjusted depending on variations in landscape and culture. However, they do indicate that a systematic and proportionate approach to cultural heritage issues can efficiently be incorporated into oil and gas operations without causing delays. In doing so the IOC adds significant value to their operations within host countries in an area that is often of high public concern.

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