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Exploratory Drilling

Seismic testing is the first stage of exploration for oil and gas, but the only way industry can know for certain whether or not there is oil or gas is through exploratory drilling. On the east coast of Canada, over 300 exploratory wells have been drilled in the search for oil. The cumulative impacts of exploration drilling have the potential to affect areas 1000 metres around a single well. In areas of hard habitat, changes in benthic diversity and abundance stretch as far as 2000 metres. The noise from exploratory drilling caused Bowhead whales to avoid the area where drilling was occurring for a radius between five to ten kilometres.

Many of the impacts of exploratory drilling are still unknown primarily because it has occurred in Canada and elsewhere without thorough pre- industry baseline data collection. As a result, it has been challenging to determine the impacts of exploratory drilling. However, a modeling study of the potential impacts of exploratory drilling on the Georges Bank ecosystem in eastern Canada predicted an impact zone for scallops that could exceed 200 square kilometers in some areas of the Bank.

For more information about the impacts of exploratory drilling, check the reference section in the library.

Other impacts of exploratory drilling include elevated concentrations of contaminants, such as barium in the tissue of animals living on the sea floor.

For more information about drilling muds, produced waters and their impact, check out our library and reference section.