In the recent second stage of the 14th Offshore Licensing Round, a number of blocks have been awarded in areas of high environmental sensitivity. At the same time the current economic climate is providing operators with new challenges for cost control. Both these factors can produce conflicts unless operators have a clear strategy for managing exploration activities in environmentally sensitive areas.
Over the last 3 years, Hamilton Oil Company Ltd has carried out seismic operations and has drilled a number of exploration and appraisal wells in environmentally sensitive areas off the North Wales and North West of England coasts. Over this period the company has developed an approach to planning and executing these activities which takes into account environmental factors without incurring excessive exploration costs.
This paper describes how this approach has been developed and provides a template for similar operations in other environmentally sensitive areas.