Deep Panuke: Monitoring for offshore environmental effects

A Torpedo ray is nestled next to the Deep Panuke export pipeline, about 47 km off the coast of Nova Scotia at a water depth of 116 m.

These images of the Torpedo ray were captured in the summer of 2012 during the subsea survey over the pipeline.

The Deep Panuke Environmental Effects Monitoring (EEM) Plan aims to identify and quantify environmental effects to verify predictions made during the environmental assessment process, evaluate the effectiveness of actions to reduce effects, provide an early warning of undesirable change in the environment and assist in identifying research and development needs.

Among the specific measurements in the plan are marine water quality monitoring, fish health assessments, marine wildlife observations, sediment sampling from the seabed, assessment of the ‘reef’ effect created by the project’s subsea structures and air quality monitoring.

The plan was developed according to guidelines outlined in the EEM Coordination Framework developed by the Canada-Nova Scotia Offshore Petroleum Board (CNSOPB), the federal Department of Fisheries and Oceans and Environment Canada.

EEM is an adaptive process that builds on lessons learned from previous years of monitoring, including monitoring from other offshore projects. Every year, Encana submits EEM results to the regulators in an annual report which is posted to the CNSOPB’s website. The report includes a proposed new EEM plan for the upcoming year.

Encana provides updates on progress with the plan to the CNSOPB’s Fisheries Advisory Committee, which is made up of fishing industry stakeholders.

So far, EEM at Deep Panuke shows no adverse impacts from the project. As expected, the monitoring also shows that the project’s subsea structures, such as the natural gas export pipeline, are being colonized by sea creatures and create a reef-like effect on the sandy seafloor.

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