On 15 May 2017, Quadrant Energy entered into a Good Standing Arrangement (GSA) with the Offshore Petroleum Joint Authority, with respect to the cancellation of Petroleum Exploration Permits WA-475-P and WA-192-P. The GSA is subject to terms and conditions in accordance with the Permit Conditions and Administration Guidelines in relation to the Offshore Petroleum and Greenhouse Gas Storage Act 2006. The GSA is to fund a 3 year regional environmental study that is relevant to the Australian Petroleum Industry, other users of the sea and more broadly, the Australian community. AIMS has been engaged by Quadrant Energy to develop and lead a comprehensive research program that will run from 2017 to 2020.
The research program will focus on the region of north-west Australia in which significant petroleum activities and environmental sensitivities overlap. The program will specifically address key knowledge needs in order to enhance the prediction of impacts of petroleum exploration and development, and provide research outputs relevant to other stakeholders within the region. The vision statement for the program is:
Using technology and innovation, the research program will deliver a step-change in our understanding of the marine environment and processes relevant to the sustainable development of the north-west of Western Australia.
There are four research themes being considered within the program:
- Marine Noise Monitoring and Impacts: Quantify the spectrum of noise produced by vessel movement and seismic activities, and the effects on pearl oysters, plankton and fishes.
- Benthic Habitats and Demersal Biodiversity: Understand physical and biological characteristics of the Ancient Coastline Key Ecological Feature (125m) and the ecological processes that maintain benthic communities from the ancient to contemporary coastlines, focusing on the distribution and genetic connectivity of pearl oysters.
- Protected and Iconic Species Movement, Distribution and Threats: Determine biologically important areas for pygmy blue whales, hawksbill and green turtles. This will lead to better quantification and mitigation of the risks to megafauna posed by vessel movements, industrial infrastructure and activities.
- Spatial Dynamics of Isolated Coral Reef Atolls: Developing a bio-physical model for benthic and fish communities at the Rowley Shoals and an adaptive monitoring program that quantifies and predicts their spatial dynamics.