Accurate environmental impact assessment and reliable monitoring of the ecosystems exposed to drilling and produced water discharges are key for offshore Exploration and Production (E&P) industry. The ability to determine and manage effects discharges are having on the surrounding environment is an integral dimension of local authorities’ decision-making and maintaining of the license to operate. Investing efforts in improved monitoring methods around offshore sites can then help address this issue and develop a better understanding of the impact evolution over space and time.

In this framework, a thorough field survey was carried out in 2010 in around an offshore installation 200 meter water depth. It included four innovative environmental monitoring techniques additionally to conventional ones. Foraminiferal assessment, biomarker analysis, passive samplers, ecotoxicological tests were all performed on the same site together with conventional analyses. The present study consolidates the results of the multi-parameter environmental diagnosis performed and offers a comparative assessment of the new monitoring methods, their added value and limiting factors. For example, passive samplers have been shown to be a valuable alternative to conventional water analyses since they report hydrocarbon to very low concentration. Foraminifera integrate any environment perturbation with a short response time and may provide an alternative solution for Arctic seas where benthic macrofauna is expected to be in low abundance. Taken together, historical environmental data of the site and information from recent field survey supplemented with innovative monitoring results have permitted to improve understanding of the change in space and time of the ecosystem quality around the offshore facilities.

Investing in improving monitoring methods yields greater understanding of environmental impact and provides benefits in terms of sensitivity, cost-effectiveness and spatial coverage. It offers a useful management support to take consistent mitigation measures and raise the level of performance of the offshore E&P industry.

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