Sensitivity assessment of habitats and key species to pressures associated with exploratory offshore drilling operations in Block 8 – Eratosthenes main prospect area, EEZ Cyprus

ca 3 months (September 2019 – November 2019)

Funded by:
ENI Cyprus Ltd.

Subcontracted by the joint venture:
Nicolaides & Associates Ltd
Pro Iter Ambiente S.r.l.
TEA Sistemi S.p.A.

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 Eratosthenes main has a surface area of approximately 19.8 km2 and an average water depth of 930 m. The prospect area lies in the middle of the Eratosthenes Seamount plateau and about 100 km southwest from the Cypriot coastline (Paphos, west Cyprus). The Eratosthenes Seamount is a biodiversity ‘hotspot’, and one of the most pronounced bathymetric features in the eastern Mediterranean Sea, recognized as a Fisheries Restricted Area under the General Fisheries Commission for the Mediterranean (GFCM). One exploratory well is foreseen for drilling.

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