IOPER annual general meeting and new research outcomes on sound and marine life

Article published in the Regulator | Issue 3: 2016

NOPSEMA helps drive international developments in offshore petroleum environmental regulation through its membership and participation in the International Offshore Petroleum Environment Regulators (IOPER) Forum. The IOPER is a collaborative group of national regulators whose members are dedicated to raising environmental performance standards within the offshore petroleum industry.

In July, NOPSEMA was represented at the IOPER Annual General Meeting (AGM) in Dublin, Ireland where members explored current and emerging topics of common interest including:

change in ownership of petroleum production assets

transparency and public participation in  decision-making • scientific research to reduce uncertainty and support decision-making

oil spill preparedness.

Separate IOPER stakeholder engagement sessions were held with industry and environmental conservation groups to hear updates on key scientific research being pursued, explore areas that could benefit from additional research and gain a perspective on key issues of interest. In particular, the AGM focused on promoting the need for industry to continue supporting research to underpin environmental assessments and decision-making for seismic survey and other noise inducing activities.

IOPER also held a planning meeting for the newly formed IOPER Sound and Marine life working group. The group explored and consolidated common science and management key challenges facing industry and regulators in the future including how:

  • regulators can promote and incentivise the development of quieting technologies

  • sensitive areas can be better identified and protected

  • information sharing and access can be improved

  • standards are developed and whether IOPER members could harmonise their guidelines for seismic surveys

  • modelling of impacts can be improved

  • masking effects can be better understood

  • detection tools can be improved

  • baseline biologics can be used to support predictive modelling and improve impact assessment and modelling.

The next steps for the working group will involve refining ideas and supporting projects to address the key challenges.

IOPER also progressed plans to continue engaging with the petroleum industry on the topic of ‘oil spill preparedness – how much is enough?’ A range of activities addressing this question, including a conference paper and presentation, are planned to coincide with the International Oil Spill Conference in 2017 to be held in Long Beach, USA.

Participation in IOPER continues to grow with Ireland’s offshore regulator attending the AGM for the first time, along with continued input from the USA, UK, Norway and Canada. Updates to all IOPER’s priority issue areas will be available in the coming months at ioper.org.