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Biological monitoring is the continued examination of biological specimens taken from a specific environment to identify any human-caused issues. In the oil and gas industry, biological monitoring programs provide important data for decision making and to ensure the protection of resources and ecosystems.
To evaluate ecosystems, flora, fauna, arthropods, birds, small mammals, and other species are examined within specific sampling zones to determine the effect on their respective habitats and density within those habitats. Tissue samples are analyzed to determine the effect of chemicals on specific species. Air, water, and soil samples are tested for signs of environmental toxicity.
Based on findings from data collected, a plan is then created to prevent potential or further damage to the zones affected by the drilling area. Special attention is paid to protected species and to species that could cause harm to industry workers.
The “edge effect”
Oil exploration involves the clarification of small forest areas during the installation of drilling platforms. One of the consequences of clarification is the increase of edges and the presence of habitats with early successional stages. An edge is a transition zone, which may be abrupt or gradual, between two adjacent ecosystems or vegetation communities. In these edges, detrimental effects may be generated for a habitat with stages of succession that initially favor an increase in the diversity of small mammals and reptiles. The duration and magnitude of these effects may vary according to the duration of the impact.
Aldo Leopold created the term “edge effect” in 1933 and used it to explain the great richness of hunting species registered in the edges. Eventually, the concept grew to include the negative edge effects on the forest community and has been extensively studied to design the buffer areas in natural protected areas. Currently, the term involves a wide spectrum of processes, mutual influences and ecological flows that can result in changes in the structure and composition of the adjacent habitats. To understand the impact of exploratory hydrocarbon drills on abundance, richness and diversity of the local flora and fauna within habitats, and to implement effective prevention and mitigation measures, biological monitoring plans are designed.
Tropical rainforests in the Amazon are home to most of the planet’s biodiversity. Special design and implementation is required in diverse tropical forests. The increasing energy demand worldwide, specifically in Peru, is boosting hydrocarbon exploration and production within Block 57, a section of the Amazon rain forest in Peru because of significant numbers of natural gas reserves on the eastern Andean slope. Despite future projections in the region and the current development of exploratory drilling techniques, little is understood about the impacts exploration activities could have on ecosystems with high biodiversity and how wildlife will respond to those impacts.
- BusinessDictionary.com. 2014. Biological monitoring. Web Finance, Inc. http://www.businessdictionary.com/definition/biological-monitoring.html.
- Videla, C., Chung, C., Ahumada, C., et al. 2013. Validation of a Biological-Monitoring Design in Highly Diverse Tropical Forests. Presented at the SPE Latin-American and Caribbean Heath, Safety, Environment and Social Responsibility Conference, 26-27 June, Lima, Peru. SPE-165632-MS. http://dx.doi.org/10.2118/165632-MS.
Noteworthy papers in OnePetro
Ahumada, C., Panta, M., Watson, A.A., Videla, C., et al. Contributions to the Design of a Methodology for the Monitoring of the Impacts of Habitat Fragmentation on Biodiversity Under an Adaptive Management Approach on a Pipeline Project in the Lower Urubamba, Peru. Presented at the SPE Latin-American and Caribbean Heath, Safety, Environment and Social Responsibility Conference, Lima, Peru, 26-27 June. SPE-165631-MS. http://dx.doi.org/10.2118/165631-MS.
Connick, S., Pedroni, P.M., Terry, S., et al. 2014. A Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services Management Framework for the Oil and Gas Sector. Presented at the SPE International Conference on Health, Safety, and Environment, Long Beach, California, USA, 17-19 March. SPE-168421-MS. http://dx.doi.org/10.2118/168421-MS.
Cousins, G. 2004. Biodiversity Challenges: Breaking New Ground on Major Pipeline Projects. Presented at the SPE International Conference on Health, Safety, and Environment in Oil and Gas Exploration and Production, Calgary, 29-31 March. SPE-86725-MS. http://dx.doi.org/10.2118/86725-MS.
Dalby, D.H. and Syratt, W.J. 1979. PD 23(1) Biological Monitoring at an Oil Refinery. IDWPC-18330. Presented at the 10th World Petroleum Congress, Bucharest, Romania, 9-14 September. https://www.onepetro.org/conference-paper/WPC-18330.
DeRouen, L.R., Hann, R.W., Casserly, D.M., et al. 1983. West Hackberry Strategic Petroleum Reserve site brine-disposal monitoring, Year I report. Volume III. Biological oceanography. Final report, Contract No. AC96-80PO10288, US DOE, Washington, DC (February 1983). https://www.onepetro.org/other/5774.
Fennessey, K., Staudt, W., and Suryana, I. 2014. Practical Guidance on Biodiversity Risk Assessments. Presented at the SPE International Conference on Health, Safety, and Environment, 17-19 March, Long Beach, California, USA Publication Date SPE-168457-MS. http://dx.doi.org/10.2118/168457-MS.
Finch, E.M. 1979. The Biological Implications For The Filtration Of North Sea Injection Water. Presented at Offshore Europe, Aberdeen, 3-7 September. SPE-8166-MS. http://dx.doi.org/10.2118/8166-MS.
Garcia, A., Tovar, E., Sulca, G., et al. 2013. Biodiversity Management in a Gas Pipeline In Peru. Presented at the SPE Latin-American and Caribbean Heath, Safety, Environment and Social Responsibility Conference, Lima, Peru, 26-27 June. SPE-165623-MS. http://dx.doi.org/10.2118/165623-MS.
Hasle, J.R. and Jensen, T. 2006. Biodiversity Mapping At The Ormen Lange Field. Presented at the SPE International Health, Safety & Environment Conference, 2-4 April, Abu Dhabi. SPE-98732-MS. http://dx.doi.org/10.2118/98732-MS.
Hester, F.J. 1976. Laboratory Biological Studies: Making Them Appropriate for Predicting the Effects of Offshore Oil and Gas Operations. Presented at the Offshore Technology Conference, Houston, 3-6 May. OTC-2524-MS. http://dx.doi.org/10.4043/2524-MS.
Hudson, I.R., Putt, R., Wigham, B.D., et al. 2004. Collaboration in Deep-sea Biodiversity - Expanding the value from Deepwater E&P Operations. Presented at the SPE International Conference on Health, Safety, and Environment in Oil and Gas Exploration and Production, Calgary, 29-31 March. SPE-86714-MS. http://dx.doi.org/10.2118/86714-MS.
Lilien, J., Albesa, J., Gonzalez, F., et al. 2006. Development of a Biodiversity Action Plan for the Boscan Field (Western Venezuela). Presented at the SPE International Health, Safety & Environment Conference, Abu Dhabi, 2-4 April. SPE-98655-MS. http://dx.doi.org/10.2118/98655-MS.
Macklin, S., Kapila, S., and Hartog, J. 2004. One Step Beyond: Managing Areas of High Biodiversity Value. Presented at the SPE International Conference on Health, Safety, and Environment in Oil and Gas Exploration and Production, Calgary, 29-31 March. SPE-86577-MS. http://dx.doi.org/10.2118/86577-MS.
Minton, R.C., McKelvie, D.S., Caudle, D.D., et al. 1993. The Physical and Biological Impact of Processed Oil Drill Cuttings: E and P Forum Joint Study. Presented at Offshore Europe, Aberdeen, 7-10. SPE-26750-MS. http://dx.doi.org/10.2118/26750-MS.
Mulino, M.M., Rayle, M.F., Francis, J.C., et al. 1995. Delineation Of Biological Impact And Recovery Of Selected Produced Water Discharges In Inshore Louisiana. Presented at the SPE/EPA Exploration and Production Environmental Conference, Houston, 27-29 March. SPE-29724-MS. http://dx.doi.org/10.2118/29724-MS.
Paulsen, J.E. and Sorheim, R. 1996. Biological Water Profile Control - Designing a Concept for North Sea Application. Presented at the SPE/DOE Improved Oil Recovery Symposium, Tulsa, 21-24 April. SPE-35376-MS. http://dx.doi.org/10.2118/35376-MS.
Pedroni, P.M., Deffis, J.M., and Alberti, C. 2010. Delivering In Sensitive Environments: Incorporating Biodiversity And Ecosystem Conservation Into Operations. Presented at the SPE International Conference on Health, Safety and Environment in Oil and Gas Exploration and Production, Rio de Janeiro, 12-14 April. SPE-126597-MS. http://dx.doi.org/10.2118/126597-MS.
Pinturier L.M., Moltu, U.E., and Sanni, S. 2006. Biological Monitoring of Marine Waters for E & P Activities: Outcome of a 10 Years Strategic Research Program. Presented at the SPE International Health, Safety & Environment Conference, Abu Dhabi, 2-4 April. SPE-98610-MS. http://dx.doi.org/10.2118/98610-MS.
Ratliff, M.D. 1994. Biological Soil Treatment and In-Situ Groundwater Remediation for Hydrocarbon Contaminants. Presented at the SPE Health, Safety and Environment in Oil and Gas Exploration and Production Conference, Jakarta, 25-27 January. SPE-27170-MS. http://dx.doi.org/10.2118/27170-MS.
Rogers, R.M., and Avent, R.M. 1999. Protection of Sensitive Biological Habitats and Resources in Relation to Offshore Oil and Gas Development in the Gulf of Mexico. Presented at the SPE/EPA Exploration and Production Environmental Conference, Austin, Texas, 1-3 March. SPE-52708-MS. http://dx.doi.org/10.2118/52708-MS.
Safitri, D., Widiarso, D., Rusjanto, J., et al. 2012. Respect to the Environment through Biodiversity Program in Delta Mahakam. Presented at the International Conference on Health, Safety and Environment in Oil and Gas Exploration and Production, Perth, Australia, 11-13 September. SPE-157370-MS. http://dx.doi.org/10.2118/157370-MS.
Sharp, J.M., Bender, M.E., Appan, S.G., et al. 1979. PD 14(2) Ecological Monitoring and Its Application to Offshore Drilling and Production. Presented at the 10th World Petroleum Congress, Bucharest, Romania, 9-14 September. WPC-18402. https://www.onepetro.org/conference-paper/WPC-18402.
Shirayama, Y. 1999. Biological Results of the JET Project: An Overview. Source Third ISOPE Ocean Mining Symposium, Goa, India, 8-10 November. ISOPE-M-99-028. https://www.onepetro.org/conference-paper/ISOPE-M-99-028.
Ahumada, J.A., Hurtado, J., Lizcano, D. 2013. Monitoring the Status and Trends of Tropical Forest Terrestrial Vertebrate Communities from Camera Trap Data: A Tool for Conservation. PLoS One 8 (9). http://dx.doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0073707.
Piltz, F. 1986. Monitoring Long-Term Changes in Biological Communities Near Oil and Gas Production Platforms. Presented at the IEEE OCEANS ’86, Washington, DC, USA, 23-25 September. http://dx.doi.org/10.1109/OCEANS.1986.1160381.
Tjeerdema, R., Bejarano, A.C., and Edge, S. 2013. Biological Effects of Dispersants and Dispersed Oil on Surface and Deep Ocean Species. Presented at the Center for Spills in the Environment Oil Dispersant Research Workshop, Baton Rouge, Louisiana, USA, 12-13 March. http://crrc.unh.edu/sites/crrc.unh.edu/files/tjeerdemabejeranoedge.pdf
UNESCO Jakarta. Developing a biological monitoring system on climate change impacts in the Tropical Rainforest Heritage of Sumatera (TRHS), Indonesia. http://portal.unesco.org/geography/en/ev.php-URL_ID=13325&URL_DO=DO_TOPIC&URL_SECTION=201.html.
Wikipedia. 2014. Environmental monitoring (31 August 2014 revision). http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Environmental_monitoring.
Ellenberg, Hermann. 1991. Biological Monitoring: Signals from the Environment. Braunschweig: Vieweg. http://www.basqueecodesigncenter.net/Documentos/Noticias/2E33FD03-4BFA-43C5-BF8E-72AAAFCD18ED/G50bie.pdf
Lauwerys, R.R., and Hoet, P. 1993. Industrial Chemical Exposure: Guidelines for Biological Monitoring. Boca Raton: Lewis Publishers.
Slocum, D., ed. 2009. Best Practices in HSE. Richardson, Texas: Reprint Series, Society of Petroleum Engineers. http://store.spe.org/Best-Practices-in-HSE-P108.aspx.
Baselt, Randall C. 1980. Biological Monitoring Methods for Industrial Chemicals. Davis, California: Biomedical Publications.
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