OceanPact structures request for environmental license in northeast Brazil

Company and its subsidiaries Witt O’Brien’s and OceanPact Geociências took part in all stages required by Ibama, which granted license to an oil and gas company

OceanPact recently planned, developed and executed all stages of the environmental licensing process on behalf of an oil and gas company, allowing it to drill exploration wells in northeast Brazil. The license was granted by the Brazilian environmental protection agency, Ibama, last week.

From the moment the administrative request was filed with Ibama to the pre-operational assessment (APO), carried out by the agency, which involved a simulated oil spill in the Japaratuba River in Aracaju, Sergipe, OceanPact and its subsidiaries worked actively, providing specialized equipment to tackle oil spills and protect the coast.

This major simulation involved 196 fishermen and other local workers, 55 OceanPact and Witt O’Brien’s specialists, and technicians from the oil company and authorities. Forty local fishing boats, eight OceanPact vessels, four oil collection barges and 9,300 meters of offshore oil spill booms were deployed. For the first time in Brazil, the simulation was broadcast in real time on the internet. Images were taken by drones and mobile cameras, as well as trackers placed on fishing boats for vessel traffic service (VTS) monitoring.

Licensing stages

At the beginning of the process to obtain an operating license from Ibama, primary collection of environmental and geotechnical data was performed by an OceanPact Geociências oceanographic vessel. A team made up of biologists, chemists and oceanographers inspected the seafloor by capturing more than 70 images using cameras designed for deep waters. Around 100 water and sediment samples were also collected and analyzed. The next steps consisted of conducting an Environmental Impact Study (EIA/RIMA), holding a public hearing, preparing to respond to an oil spill at sea, and carrying out a pre-operational assessment (APO).

Over the last six months, specialized professionals from OceanPact and its subsidiary Witt O’Brien’s visited the coasts of the states of Sergipe, Alagoas and northern Bahia to assess their social, environmental and logistical characteristics for the development of Tactical Response Plans for each sensitive area in that region. These professionals mapped and engaged stakeholders (public officials, conservation area employees, fishermen’s representatives and other members of the local community). They also registered and trained fishing vessels that could be chartered to assist with a potential offshore oil spill. In all, 1,263 local residents and 243 vessels were involved in coastal protection and beach cleaning training.

Exploration campaign

OceanPact and Witt O’Brien’s will remain mobilized throughout the oil company’s exploration campaign, with 21 specialized professionals on 24/7 standby for immediate mobilization in the event of an offshore oil spill.

An Oil Spill Recovery Vessel (OSRV), 65 meters long and capable of collecting 1,500 m³ of oil from the sea, is dedicated to the campaign. Five other offshore support vessels are equipped with Current Buster 6 equipment to tackle oil spills.

A base strategically located in Maceió, Alagoas, is equipped with more than 13,000 meters of booms, oil collectors, floating and land tanks, support vessels, off-road cars and quadricycles.

On top of the resources dedicated to the exploration campaign, OceanPact can mobilize additional resources from its port and offshore bases. The company is able to provide another 37,000 meters of oil containment booms, 29 current busters, 140 powerpacks and 135 high-capacity oil collectors.