Published: October 18, 2016
By BBN Staff: The Ministry of Economic Development and Petroleum sent out a release to inform the public that pursuant to the Petroleum Act, the Government of Belize will be conducting a regional seismic survey in the deep offshore territory of Belize east of the barrier reef and in the Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ), excluding all marine protected areas as well as all areas banned from petroleum exploration which includes the barrier reef, the atolls and all World Heritage Sites with a 1 kilometer buffer around all these areas. The survey will be done in deep water only and away from any major tourist activity, fishing areas or spawning sites.
The release explains that this survey is part of a larger regional geophysical survey currently being done by the United States Government and the Mexican Government in the US Gulf of Mexico, the Mexican Gulf of Mexico and east of the Yucatan Peninsula to gather new regional data to advance the knowledge of the geology and hydrocarbon systems of these geological provinces. Belize was invited to participate in this regional program and take advantage of the opportunity to acquire invaluable geological data over the deep waters of Belize where there is currently no data. Belize has taken the decision to participate in this regional program with the US and Mexico.
A marine seismic survey is done using a seismic ship that will navigate along survey lines and acquire seismic data along the lines using an acoustic source, that focuses sound downwards, and hydrophones. The acoustic source will be towed behind the ship and will release acoustic waves at intervals along the seismic lines that will travel down in the water and into the rocks below the seafloor scanning them and return to the surface of the sea by reflection. The reflections will be received by the hydrophones that will be trailing behind the ship and the data will be sent to the ship along the hydrophones. This process will be repeated along each seismic line. There are 22 planned lines in the survey. The data produced will give a regional picture of the geology below the sea floor that will help the Government to evaluate the hydrocarbon potential of the deep offshore areas of Belize.
The release further state that mitigation measures, which are internationally practiced, will be utilized to minimize the disturbance to marine mammals. Every survey run will start with a ramp up procedure or slow start where the level of the acoustic sound will slowly be increased so that if any marine mammals are in the area they can move away before data acquisition commences. There will also be marine mammals observers on board the seismic vessel who will look for marine mammals in the operation zone and if there are sightings the soft start will be delayed or acquisition stopped until they have moved out of the area and then the survey process will be continued.
The survey is expected to commence in the third week of October 2016 and is expected to take 3 weeks to complete. All data acquired will be the property of the Government of Belize.