Acquisition of 3D seismic data will start in Vesteralen (Nordland VII) with the vessel Geo Pacific. The acquisition activities in Troms II, to be carried out by the Ocean Explorer, will be delayed by a couple of days.
The plan calls for the seismic data acquisition activities to conclude on August 9.
In order to make these surveys possible, the Norwegian Petroleum Directorate (NPD) has entered into buy-out agreements with about 100 fishers in the relevant areas.
The agreement entails that the fishers will be compensated for refraining from fishing when this could impede the seismic acquisition activities. The fishers can still fish when the seismic survey vessels are not in their particular fishing areas.
An extensive, cutting-edge research project will be carried out in connection with the acquisition of seismic data in Vesteralen.
The objective of this pioneer project is to study the startle effect of seismic surveys on a number of important commercial fish species. This is the largest project of its kind, and is unique in a global context.
In addition to learning more about how different species of fish react to the seismic shock waves, researchers will study how long it takes for fishing to normalize after seismic data acquisition is completed.
The studies of the startle effect will be linked to acoustic measurements. Five fishing vessels have been hired to carry out test fishing before, during and after the seismic survey activity.
The research vessel Hakon Mosby will also take part in the project, which is being carried out by the Institute of Marine Research, with financing from the budget allocated by the Storting (Norwegian Parliament) for the NPD's seismic acquisition activity.
The research project will be carried out in the northern part of the seismic survey area in Vesteralen (Nordland VII). Test fishing started as early as June 17, 12 days before commencement of the seismic acquisition activity.
This project is being followed with great interest, both by the fishery industry, fisher organizations and the petroleum industry. The project can provide useful new information, and it is extremely important that the project is completed.
The authorities' acquisition of seismic data in this particular area in Vesterålen furnishes a unique opportunity to obtain interesting new knowledge that is highly sought-after. A prerequisite for carrying out the research project is that the planned seismic surveys in Vesterålen can proceed as planned.
Last autumn, the Stortinget allocated NOK 200 million to the NPD's data acquisition activities in the summer of 2009. NOK 25 million of this amount will be used for the research project, while the buy-out scheme for fishers is estimated to cost about NOK 13 - 15 million.
The Storting is the principal for the NPD's seismic data acquisition. When the Storting in 2006 considered the comprehensive management plan for the Barents Sea and the waters off Lofoten, it also resolved that the NPD should carry out a geological survey of Nordland VII and Troms II, with a view towards potential petroleum deposits.
Information from the NPD's surveys will form part of the factual basis when the comprehensive management plan is reconsidered in 2010.
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