Project 2 – Ecological connectivity between, amongst and within the vicinity of O&G structures and the marine environment

Full Project Title

Ecological connectivity between, amongst and within the vicinity of O&G infrastructure and the marine environment.

NDRI Reference

RP1-Pro2 (Research Program 1 – Project 2)

Objective

To gain understanding of how decommissioning of O&G infrastructure may affect ecological connectivity.

Background

O&G infrastructure creates artificial reef complexes that can support biologically-diverse and abundant fish and invertebrate communities in the oceans.

‘Connectivity’ affects the degree to which O&G infrastructure facilitate or impede the movement of organisms and resources, such as nutrients and energy, among other O&G infrastructure, natural reefs, and other environments.

The connectivity of O&G infrastructure affects movement of fish and invertebrates to and from structures. It can also affect important ecological processes such as the ontogenetic habitat use of fish and invertebrates, gene flow, local adaptation, and extinction risk.

Understanding connectivity helps explain how the decommissioning of O&G infrastructure can influence the marine ecosystem function regionally.

Questions
  1. Is there likely to be connectivity among offshore O&G infrastructure and with other environments, such as nearby natural reefs?
  2. What is the ecological importance of this connectivity (both positive and negative) and how might this be affected by the removal of O&G infrastructure from the marine environment or some other form of decommissioning (e.g. topping, toppling)?
Approach

NDRI does not seek to commission any experimental or modelling efforts to address this objective. Rather, we are seeking a review of the global state of knowledge regarding connectivity of O&G infrastructure and the ecological importance of this connectivity, at local and regional scales.

We appreciate that the amount of information on connectivity for O&G infrastructure – both within Australian and globally – may be limited. It is therefore suggested that inferences may be made from analogous systems (e.g. natural reefs under similar environmental conditions), and from broader paradigms that apply ecological connectivity in the marine environment. These inferences should account for the types, extent, depths and locations of O&G infrastructure and may benefit from taking into account outputs of Project 1.

Prioritisation of effort should be given to commercially and recreationally-important (e.g. fish), rare, iconic (e.g. marine mammals) or threatened (e.g. Environment Protection and Biodiversity Act 1999 listed) species.

Applicants should consider the potential for RP1-Pro1 to identify IMS during ROV analyses, and how this information may assist with this project.

Applications