Sensitivity assessment of habitats and key species to pressures associated with exploratory offshore drilling operations in Block 11 – Alphee prospect area, EEZ Cyprus

ca 2 months (July 2019 – August 2019)

Funded by:
TOTAL E & P Cyprus

Subcontracted by the joint venture:
Nicolaides & Associates Ltd

Project Description:
The sensitivity assessment is a generic and widely used procedure to determine the likely effects of the pressures on a ‘hypothetical’ population. Sensitivity to anthropogenic pressures is primarily determined by the features (habitat or key species) ability to resist that pressure by virtue of its characteristic properties, e.g. hardness of substratum or physiological tolerance limits and behavioral plasticity (i.e. Resistance). At the same time, sensitivity also depends upon the capacity of the feature to recover from impacts following reduction or removal of the pressure (i.e. Resilience). Resistance and resilience scores to standardized pressures are combined to yield assessments of sensitivity to human activities.

The scope of this work is the application of a sensitivity assessment on the ecosystem features of the prospect area to exploratory offshore drilling operations. The survey area of Alphee prospect area has a surface area of approximately 495 km2 and an average water depth of 1578 m. The prospect area lies 160 km south-west from the coasts of Cyprus and at a minimum distance of 46 km south-west from the Eratosthenes Seamount, a biodiversity ‘hotspot’ and one of the most pronounced bathymetric features in the Mediterranean. One exploratory well is foreseen for drilling.

A final sensitivity assessment report was delivered to the consortium in October 2019.