In fulfillment of the regulatory requirements and international best practices, the Right-Holder – Operator, TOTAL E&P Liban Sal (TEP), completed the environmental assessment process for block 4 according to the below listed milestones while the process is still ongoing for block 9.
The EIA process was initiated in July 2018 through a project classification for the exploration activities planned in Block 4. The scope of the proposed project covered offshore activities and associated onshore support operations (supply base, vessels movement, helicopter transport, etc.) conducted for drilling one exploration well and a potential appraisal well and a contingent well in the event of a commercial discovery.
As an integral part of the EIA scoping process, the project proponent conducted a high-level assessment of the potential impacts of the planned exploration activities on the different environmental, socio-economic and cultural heritage receptors.
The assessment addressed mainly environmental and social impacts (positive and negative) relevant to different phases or activities within the scope of the planned project to identify the main topics requiring thorough assessments and possible mitigation measures and management plans. The assessment was conducted based on:
Topics found of significance to be considered by the EIA covered adverse impacts of routine activities namely underwater noise, hazardous wastes, effluent discharges, marine ecology, etc. as well as accidental events namely oil spills, blowouts, fires and explosions.
An interactive and proactive Stakeholder Engagement approach was adopted as part of the EIA Scoping phase. The approach adopted by the project proponent exceeded the national requirements and aligned with best international practice aiming at:
They key tasks achieved during that exercise included:
Information collected during the stakeholder engagement activities were considered during the scoping process.
The final output of the scoping phase materialized in the development of the terms of reference (ToR) of the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) study outlining the tasks and methodologies to be adopted to develop the EIA report and complete the EIA process for the Block 4 exploration drilling activities.
Environmental and Social Baseline Surveys:
One of the major outcomes of the scoping phase consisted of developing the scope of work for the Environmental Baseline Survey (EBS) conducted specifically for the purpose of the project planned in Block 4. A thorough EBS campaign was conducted from March to April 2019 by a specialized scientific vessel – Janus II taking samples and video recordings from deep-waters with depths varying between 320 to 1,780 meters below sea level which is a “first time” for such types of surveys in Lebanon.
The survey aimed at identifying environmentally and archeologically sensitive areas offshore and to identify and characterize existing marine conditions (physical, chemical and biological). The EBS campaign focused mainly on evaluating:
Key findings of the survey are summarized below:
|Water column||Clear, oligotrophic and uncontaminated marine waters (low metal, PAHs, PCBs and BTEX concentrations)|
|Plankton communities||Low diversity and abundance of plankton|
|Sediment Compartment|| - Low organic and nutrient enrichment
- No noticeable traces of contamination in metals, except for arsenic, copper, and nickel which are considered as of natural origin
- Low concentrations of hydrocarbons, BTEX and PCBs
|Benthic infauna||Low diversity, abundance, and biomass|
|ROV observations||Low diversity and abundance of epibenthic species colonizing the soft bottom|
|MFO observations||- Very low sighting rates for marine mammals and large pelagic fish
- No sighting for turtles
- High occurrence and diversity of birds which are migrating along the Lebanon coast
|Archeology||No archeological trace of remains on the deep seabed|
|Maritime Traffic||- Abundant anthropogenic activity with many vessels
- Abundant waste floating on the sea surface or on the seafloor
A Social Baseline Survey (SBS) was also conducted during the scoping stage. The survey aimed at better understanding, before operational activities, the societal and human rights context of the directly and indirectly affected area by the planned activities in Block 4.
EIA Reporting Stage:
An EIA report was developed based on the approved TOR during the scoping phase. The report presented a detailed assessment and evaluation of impacts identified during the scoping to define the associated significance (magnitude, duration, likelihood of occurrence, etc.). It further allowed detailed evaluation of alternative options as well as the development of project specific environmental management and monitoring plans.
The objectives of this phase of the EIA process are to:
Potential impacts were assessed throughout the lifecycle of the project based on a comprehensive, systematic review and scoring methodology. Modeling was also conducted during the assessment including discharge/cuttings modeling, oil spill modeling and underwater noise modeling.
Based on this assessment, it was concluded that by following Lebanese legislative requirements and adopting Total’s international best practices, the residual impacts from routine activities are expected to have minor or negligible levels of significance. Some residual impacts of moderate significance is unavoidable from the discharge of water-based cuttings and drilling fluids at the seabed during drilling of the upper well (open hole) sections. However, control measures were developed as part of the EIA study to mitigate this issue to the practical level. The potential impacts of discharge of hazardous wastes (polluted oily cuttings) was avoided by adopting the option to export the waste for treatment outside Lebanon in line with Basel Convention.
A comprehensive assessment of the impacts of potential unplanned/accidental events was also carried out as part of the EIA study. Different scenarios of accidental events that may occur during operation were evaluated. Spill drift modelling of two large-scale hydrocarbon releases (well blowout with release of condensate and an instantaneous release of a large volume of marine gas oil (vessel fuel)) has been conducted as part of the EIA study and associated control measures were integrated within the project’s mitigation measures.
A register of commitments was developed listing all the adopted mitigation measures to be followed during the process. In addition, Environmental and Social Management and Monitoring Plans have been developed which covered mainly the below listed topics:
The Environmental and Social Management Plans will form the framework for subsequent implementation plans to be implemented by the different contractors and subcontractors involved in the project to ensure compliance with the relevant environmental and social requirements, specifications and procedures set out.
The interactive and proactive Stakeholder Engagement approach was maintained during the EIA reporting phase where:
Information collected during the stakeholder engagement activities were considered during the EIA reporting phase.
Environmental Impact Assessment for the Exploration Activities in Block 4:
The Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) study for the Exploration Drilling in Block 4 Offshore Lebanon can be accessed here:
Risk analysis was undertaken by the Operator to address all risks associated with petroleum activities planned for Block 4. The risk analysis included risks associated with the drilling activities where a Risk Register and Bow-Tie analysis were undertaken to identify hazards and risks, define major accident hazards, develop the proper mitigation measures, assign responsibilities to follow up and manage the hazard/risk, and maintain an updated Risk Register.
The risk analysis also included risks associated with the drillship where an IADC HSE Case was put in place in line with the IADC Guidelines for Mobile Offshore Drilling Unit. The IADC Case includes the assessment of the management system of the drill ship, the the evaluation of the drillship technical specifications and performance and the assessment of the associated hazards and risks as well as the measure put place to manage these risks.
The Operator has established and has implemented a Management System covering the planned exploration activities in line with best international practices followed in the industry.
An Emergency Response Plan (ERP) for exploration activities in Block 4 was put in place by the Operator before the commencement of drilling activities in Block 4, in line with the requirements in the petroleum regulations.
The ERP targets the emergency preparedness and response by the Operator during the planned petroleum activities and defines the overall response organization for emergency management at the Operator under multiple emergency scenarios as well as the emergency procedures and arrangements to ensure proper, timely and effective response to any emergency. The ERP also defines notification, communication and reporting channels during emergencies namely the interfaces with the relevant government institutions. The ERP clearly defines the Operator as the responsible entity to identify and quantify the risks of emergencies, define the main emergency scenarios, prepare, plan and respond to these emergency scenarios, as well as arrange and ensure the resources for the proper and timely management of emergencies.
While the ERP presents the framework plan for all emergency scenarios, additional plans were developed for the specific emergency scenarios of Medical Evacuation, Oil Spill and Blowout as described below.
A Medevac Plan was put in place by the Operator in line with the petroleum regulations to manage emergencies related to medical conditions that require transfer from the offshore/logistic base to hospitals onshore. The Medevac Plan addresses medical cases of illnesses and diseases as well as injuries resulting from incidents/accidents. The Medevac plan defines the responsibilities, organization and resources available as well as the procedures and arrangements to ensure proper, timely and effective evacuation of medical cases. The Medevac also defines notification, communication and reporting channels among the different relevant parties.
An Oil Spill Contingency Plan (OSCP) was put in place by the Operator, in line with the petroleum regulations, to manage and respond to potential scenarios of oil spills and releases of hydrocarbon in the environment at sea, and onshore, related to the offshore petroleum activities (drilling operations and logistical support). The OSCP defines the overall response organization for oil spill management at the Operator as well as the response procedures and arrangements to ensure proper, timely and effective response to any oil spill case. The OSCP also defines notification, communication and reporting channels during oil spill scenarios.
A Blow Out Contingency Plan (BOCP) specific to the activities planned in Block 4 was put in place by the Operator, in line with the petroleum regulations. The BOCP focuses on regaining well control, ensuring recovery from loss of control of the well as well as minimization of the impact on health of the personnel and the environment. The BOCP defines the response organization at the Operator as well as the measures and procedures to manage well control situations to avoid blowout situations. The BOCP also defines the strategies and guidance towards response and management of blowout situations. The BOCP describes procedures for possible relief well and subsea intervention capping scenarios as the main potential interventions in cases of blowouts.