Firm resubmits scheme for seismic testing off Nunavut waters
Data gathering firm plans seismic tests in Baffin Bay, Davis Strait
The National Energy Board has resumed its assessment of an application for seismic testing just east of Baffin Island.
The joint application by TGS-NOPEC Geophysical Company, Petroleum GeoServices and Multi Klient Invest, first presented to the NEB in May 2011, called for sound-producing devices to run scans from air guns to the sea floor for a period of two months each year for five years
Seismic testing is often done to identify geological anomalies under the sea bed that could be targets for oil and gas drilling.
But the proposal to carry out surveys in Baffin Bay and the Davis Strait was suspended this past spring when the NEB, which regulates oil and gas offshore activities in the Canadian Arctic, ruled the applicants failed to provide feedback from three neighbouring communities.
Residents of Pond Inlet, Clyde River and Qikiqtarjuaq opposed the project at public hearings this past May, saying the seismic scheme could damage large sea mammals and their food sources along the full length of the Baffin coastline.
These include whales, walrus, and seals, which the communities rely on for food.
But when company officials visited those Baffin communities in the spring, residents found the officials unable to answer questions about the effects of the project on sea mammals and how the use of Inuit Qaujimajatuqangit or traditional knowledge would be considered in the project design.
The board said the applicants had until Sept. 5 to file the needed information, or it would “consider the application withdrawn.”
In August, the companies finally provided a document to respond to those questions, which is now posted to the NEB’s website.
Although data is limited, the document refers to studies that show no documented cases of marine mammal mortality when exposed to oil and gas exploration surveys.
The document also outlines mitigation measures, including the creation of a community liaison contact to communicate project information with local residents.
The public now has until Oct. 14 to submit written comments to the NEB, which can be sent to exproEA@neb-one.gc.ca.