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
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.