Seismic Testing Q&A: The Pros and Cons

Oil and natural gas exploration -- geology and geophysics
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Seismic Testing Q&A: The Pros and Cons

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Though drilling for oil or natural gas off the East Coast coast is currently off the table, the federal government is still evaluating permits from several companies to use sonic air guns to survey the Atlantic seabed for oil and gas deposits.

The National Marine Fisheries Service, known as NOAA Fisheries, is currently reviewing applications from the companies to harm or harass whales and other animals protected by federal law. These permits, which would put limits on disturbances to marine mammals, is one of the final requirements before seismic projects are approved.

The testing off the N.C. coast could begin later this year.

Air gun noise is believed by marine scientists to have potentially detrimental effects on fish, sea turtles and marine mammals, including the endangered North Atlantic right whale that migrates off the southeast U.S. East Coast.

Proponents, on the other hand, say that there is no evidence that directly link the tests to harmed whales, fish or turtles. Such tests, they say, are needed to allow oil companies to better judge the locations and quantities of oil or gas deposits.

Over the next two days, Coastal Review Online will present interviews to people on both sides of the issue. We start today with Richie Miller, executive vice president at Spectrum-Geo’s office in Houston, Texas. The Norwegian-based seismic survey company is one of five applicants seeking permission from the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management to do seismic surveys off the southeast Atlantic coast to look for oil and gas deposits under the ocean floor.

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