Total E&P Uganda undertook a 3D seismic survey in Exploration Area 1/1A lying within the Murchison Falls National Park. During the survey, an impact mitigation program was applied to; Avoid unnecessary damages; Minimize unavoidable damages; Restore damages; and Offset any residual damage to ecosystems.
Here, we describe highly innovative approaches used in Avoidance, Minimization, and Restoration of impacts presented as a model for future operations in similar sensitive ecosystems. A simplified Avoidance model was designed to implement avoidance while Minimization involved use of alternative technologies such as cable-less technology, and vegetation mapping. Restoration involved use of both manual and mechanical methods. Unmanned Aerial Vehicle was also used to scout predefined seismic lines and monitor restoration.
Ecological Compliance Officers supervised activities on ground to ensure enforcement of the Avoidance Mapping Procedure, identification of impacts and overseeing restoration of impacted areas. Consequently, there were generally few impacts resulting from avoidable damages. Impacted areas were identified, mapped and later restored. In total 64 tracks, 59 upholes and 30 patches were fully restored. Total of 40,328 avoidance features were mapped along approximately 3500kms of seismic lines. 678 features were later sampled and revisited after operations to assess compliance to Avoidance. Only one feature, a burrow was found impacted upon, having a tyre mark depression implying it may have been trampled by a vehicle.Observations indicate compliance by the Seismic crews, further suggesting the mitigation hierarchy is an effective impact mitigation measure.
The seismic survey was very intensive and the first of its kind in such a sensitive ecosystem employing highly innovative technologies such as use of cable-less data acquisition implemented for the first time in Africa. Application of the UAV was highly innovative, as well as the creative Simplified Avoidance Model which provides an extensive knowledge, technicalities and experience in avoiding impacts in such operations.