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ESIA for Seismic Operations in the Gulf of Suez, Egypt

CSA Ocean Sciences Inc. (CSA) prepared an Environmental and Social Impact Assessment (ESIA) for seismic operations in the Gulf of Suez, Egypt. The ESIA included Environmental and Social Management and Monitoring Plans. Seismic operations were planned for the Shoab Ali reef complex and Ras Kenisa region in the North Shadwan Concession. The ESIA included interpretation and classification of satellite imagery for benthic habitats. To ground‑truth the satellite imagery, CSA selected representative stations in a variety of habitats and water depths over a wide geographic area.

CSA used two methods for ground-truthing. In water more than 4m deep, video was recorded of the bottom using a remotely operated vehicle deployed from a vessel. In water less than 4m deep, visual observations of bottom habitats were made from the water surface in an inflatable boat because scuba diving and snorkeling were prohibited by project requirements. Based on this information, CSA prepared geographic information system (GIS) marine habitat maps of coral reefs, seagrass beds, algal flats, rock, and sand. The GIS maps enabled seismic survey crews to place hydrophone cables on the seabed without damaging to sensitive habitats.

CSA also provided a scientist to monitor benthic communities prior to and after deployment of seismic equipment. Additional CSA services included compiling a list of needed permits and approvals, assisting in obtaining the seismic permits, and assisting with interactions among Egyptian regulators and interested third parties, including non-government organizations. The project was conducted in cooperation with an Egyptian business partner. In 2005, this CSA project was the Green Category Winner for the Middle East, Former Soviet Union, and Africa Region event in Sun City, South Africa, reaching the Global Finals for the Helios Awards, for which over 1,500 projects were submitted.

Project Location: Northern GOM

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