WesternGeco Withdraws Survey Application

By on September 11, 2020

This graphic shows how seismic air gun testing is used to locate oil and gas deposits deep below the ocean floor. (Graphic: Oceana)

Coastal Review Online | Staff Report

A Texas-based geophysical services company has withdrawn its application for permission to conduct seismic surveys for oil and natural gas of the coast of the Carolinas.

A letter dated Sept. 4 to the U.S. Bureau of Ocean Energy Management from WesternGeco LLC Vice President Adil Mukhitov served as formal notice effective the date of the letter of the company’s withdrawal of its Application for Permit to Conduct Geophysical Exploration for Mineral Resources on the Outer Continental Shelf, No. E14-004, dated-stamped April 7, 2014.

The application requested authorization to conduct a geophysical survey on the Atlantic Outer Continental Shelf, which BOEM has not granted or denied the Application, the letter states.

The company proposed surveying from the southern border of South Carolina to the northern border of Virginia, encompassing an expanse off the coast of North Carolina, per a state Department of Environmental Quality’s Division of Coastal Management document.

WesternGeco proposed to conduct a marine geophysical survey using 2D seismic testing off the coast to gather geological and geophysical data that could provide information about the feasibility of future development of offshore oil and gas resources. The survey would have involved a vessel towing seismic airgun arrays and take place in federal waters by North Carolina’s coastal zone, according to a May 2019 report.

The WesternGeco letter sent Sept. 4 was before the Trump administration’s announcement Tuesday to expand a moratorium on offshore drilling off Florida’s Gulf Coast to include Florida, Georgia and South Carolina for 10 years.

“The entire East Coast is unified in opposition to seismic blasting and oil drilling in the Atlantic Ocean, and this appears to be another recognition of that reality. But, like the President’s announcement this week, this isn’t a cause for celebration. Just as the other Atlantic states are still at risk for drilling, there are still other companies pursuing seismic blasting. We still have work to do,” The Southern Environmental Law Center Senior Attorney Catherine Wannamaker, who is heading the organization’s federal case against seismic blasting, said Thursday in a statement.

Michael Jasny, director of the marine mammal protection project at the Natural Resources Defense Council, or NRCD, said in a statement that this withdrawal “is a sign of how strong the bipartisan opposition is — by coastal communities and officials at every level — to the harm that seismic explosions along the Atlantic coast would cause to marine life, to our oceans, and to our climate. Four companies are still looking to pursue this harm, and they should follow WesternGeco’s lead in standing down.”

DCM denied in June 2019 permits for WesternGeco to conduct geological and geophysical surveys in the Atlantic. DCM determined the proposal was incomplete, inconsistent with the state’s enforceable coastal management policies and would harm fish and other marine life and put at risk coastal habitats and the coastal marine economy. WesternGeco in July 2019 appealed to the U.S. Secretary of Commerce to override the decision.

In June 2020, North Carolina’s objection to WesternGeco’s proposed Bureau of Ocean Energy Management permit to conduct a geological and geophysical seismic survey for oil and gas exploration in the Atlantic Outer Continental Shelf was overridden. The decision signed by U.S. Under Secretary Of Commerce For Oceans And Atmosphere Neil Jacobs.








  • mike44

    Offshore drilling is too expensive for the price of oil keeps falling.. at 40$ a barrel, is almost 70’s prices and gas would be under a dollar a gallon now if it was not for the taxes on gas. Besides, as the alternate energy is becoming more mainstream.. it is just not economical to offshore drill.

    Friday, Sep 11 @ 8:20 pm
  • Just a mom

    And yet almost every American lives on the grid…driving cars, wearing clothes made in huge factories powered by fuels, transported by planes which run on fuel…,It’s better to send our money to another country to purchase their oil and gas while we are dreaming of a “green” new way of life. Really? Everyone better stop buying their individually wrapped cheese slices and just about every bit of your very existence before suggesting that offshore drilling is a pollutant to nature. Shut off the electricity and get out your hand pump primed for water. Sound crazy? It’s not going to happen. And if we don’t drill off shore someone else will with lesser standards for safety.

    Sunday, Sep 13 @ 7:08 am
  • Koo flocks

    Could the DCM and WesternGeco worked out a suitable plan to reduce or mitigate the environmental impact on the exploration?

    Sunday, Sep 13 @ 8:01 am
  • Rico

    Seismic surveys use airguns as a source, there has been no blasting on marine surveys in the last 30 years or so. The ships doing the surveys have Marine Mammal Observers that work for an outside agency to monitor the survey operations and report any sightings for immediate suspension of any insea source operation. The operation is suspended until the area is clear of any animals sighted including sea turtles. I have seen whales and dolphins approach the ships while the survey is in progress many times on past surveys before the rules for shutting down were common, and from what I’ve seen they don’t seem to mind it at all. I’ve worked behind the ship while the survey is in progress for 1000s of hours and I have never seen any sign of sea life being injured or stunned and one of my shipmates or i would have. I worked for Western Geco for 20 yrs, if you did have a company do a survey, they are the company you want, very safety conscious.

    Tuesday, Sep 15 @ 12:40 pm