The term Integrated Environmental Monitoring (IEM) refers to the tight coupling of sensor based real-time environmental monitoring with day-to-day operations. In that perspective IEM extends the traditional meaning of the term environmental monitoring by including discharge control, leak detection and remote sensing. Using offshore operations as an example, environmental monitoring has often been perceived to mean off-line sampling of seabed sediments and the water column during annual and triennial campaigns by ship. Whereas such monitoring has its place in a total monitoring programme, advances in technology and methodology open up for more flexible and real-time sensor based monitoring which can be tied closely to daily operations in the oil and gas industry.

Statoil has been working for the past few years to develop an integrated approach to environmental monitoring (IEM). Now, the first version of the software, developed together with partners, is ready for use during drilling operations to monitor dispersion of drill cuttings and resulting risks to cold water corals and other sensitive areas subsea. Both the planning, execution and post-operation phase of environmental assessment related to such operations are covered. In this paper we take a look at the key components of the system (sensors, data integration, models/analytics and presentation) and review the implications for future drilling operations in sensitive areas.

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