Preserving the Deep Sea

02/11/2015

Deep offshore production creates major environmental challenges. Preserving ecosystems and controlling water quality are among Total's top priorities.

Understanding Ecosystems to Better Preserve Them

Understanding how an ecosystem functions is critical to its preservation. Total carries out two types of initiatives to reduce the environmental footprint of its operations. First, it conducts environmental studies throughout the life cycle of a project. Before any work begins, a baseline is established for all of the site's environmental parameters.  A study is then carried out to quantify the project's potential environmental impacts and to reduce those impacts to an acceptable level. Throughout the field's life cycle, environmental monitoring programs track and quantify waste and emissions. This allows us to gain a better understanding of the ecosystems in our areas of operation and define appropriate measures to protect them more effectively.

Supporting Scientific Research to Better Protect the Deep Sea

Our second line of action focuses on supporting scientific research and investigating marine life. In the late 1990s, Total teamed up with France's ocean research institute Ifremer to study the deep sea. Our knowledge of deepwater ecosystems has been greatly enhanced thanks to these studies.  At depths of 3,000 meters, animal life has managed to develop in certain areas despite the lack of light and the extreme pressure, forming small oases around natural outlets of cold fluids known as cold seeps.

Continuously Recycling, Assessing and Treating Water to Ensure Its Quality

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When produced water cannot be reinjected (first choice), it is returned to the sea only after it has been processed and its quality has been assessed. We are developing increasingly sophisticated sensors to continuously monitor water quality and ensure that oil content doesn't exceed the regulatory limit. These sensors analyse produced water as it exits from treatment plants. We have also developing innovative techniques for monitoring the quality of the water in a large area surrounding our production sites.