New grants for oil and gas industry to automate whale detection

FEDERAL government grant money is available for oil and gas business with new ideas on how to automate the detection and identification of whales during marine seismic surveys offshore Australia.
New grants for oil and gas industry to automate whale detection New grants for oil and gas industry to automate whale detection New grants for oil and gas industry to automate whale detection New grants for oil and gas industry to automate whale detection New grants for oil and gas industry to automate whale detection

NOPSEMA will make funds available for companies to bring their innovative ideas to life. The aim of the game is to find a way to automate whale identification.

Paul Hunt

Senior Journalist: Oil & Gas, Policy.

Paul Hunt

The federal government said the program would help "inform it on conservation actions and management of industry pressures."

"Seismic companies need to be able to reliably detect whales to ensure their protection. An automated system that can identify whales day and night to inform vessel responses in real time is the ultimate goal," the government said. 

Seismic acquisition is a technique used by the oil and gas industry to map the geology of the ocean floor for potential reservoirs of petroleum resources. 

The technique involves venting high-energy air pressure into the water which can generate seismic waves in the earth's crust beneath the sea. 

The resulting waves are then turned into geological and geophysical data. 

However, air guns used to conduct seismic acquisition create sound pulses that are harmful to large marine mammals including whales. 

In the interest of conservation, seismic surveys are usually carried out during "off-periods" of whale migration, to avoid harming them. 

The National Offshore Petroleum Safety and Environmental Management Authority (NOPSEMA) has partnered with the Australian Antarctic Division to improve the detection and identification of whales during offshore seismic campaigns. 

The project, dubbed BRII 2020, has been shortlisted for a federal government funding scheme. 

This will provide funds to oil and gas operators and seismic survey contractors to come up with new ways to identify marine mammals. 

The federal government is providing up to $12 million to help business create new solutions to challenges under its Innovation program. 

Approximately $2.4 of this will be provided through NOPSEMA and its BRII project. 

The project aims to automate the detection of whales at sea.