New noises from deepwater oil operations

Next week I will be at the Pan-American/Iberian meeting on acoustics in Cancún, Quintana Roo, Mexico delivering a paper on the acoustical impacts of new deepwater oil and gas exploration and production (E&P).

The “scientific paper” is not really research as much as it is a “show and tell” with some math and citations. Because we have not yet been able to measure the noise we’ve had to model it and speculate about how the conditions form the environment.

The topic did stimulate some interest in the press so I was also asked to write a “lay language” version as well. We’ll see if the press shows up for the presentation. It would be helpful if they did because the incentive behind writing the paper is to alert the public and the professional bio-acoustics community to the fact that this rapidly developing field of deepwater oil may be introducing a lot of new noise into the ocean.

The noises of concern are the high-pressure flow noise of oil, gas, sand, and brine; the seafloor-deployed processing equipment; the actual stabilized platforms; and the ever-increasing density of underwater acoustic communication systems associated with the extreme environments of deepwater oil (the lay paper has the pictures).

We’ve also been shopping proposal to actually fund measurement of these settings, so perhaps by the next acoustics conference we will have some actual data to share.