Joint Industry Programme on Sound and Marine Life review of existing data on underwater sounds produced by the oil and gas industry

Open Access Report 2008

Final Report

During the exploration, development, production and decommissioning phases of offshore oil and gas reserves these activities contribute to the noise levels in the oceans, estuaries and rivers of the world. The purpose of this report is to catalogue and assess the available data that characterise the underwater sounds made by the oil and gas industries in all phases of their activities. Measurements of underwater sounds are scarce. Given the volume of traffic and industrial activity in, on or by the shores of the oceans it is surprising that so little is known of the likely impact man made noise may have within the oceans. Measurements made over the last 40 years at a site off the southern Californian coast show a general increase in low frequency noise in the ocean with time. The increase in this noise level has been widely attributed to increases in shipping and other anthropogenous (human made) noise (this is often termed anthropogenic noise). The significant amount of shipping and other activities attributable to oil and gas industries contributes to this rise in the total background noise in the ocean. In some areas, ocean noise background levels have doubled every decade for the last six decades mainly due to the increase in shipping. (McDonald, Hilderbrand et al. 2006). Few measurements have been made on underwater noise sources, and those that have been made are often limited in their scope due to vessel time, operational and weather constraints. Comparison between measurements by different observers can be difficult due to the vast range of ever changing conditions encountered in the ocean seabed, and sea-surface. Many metrics can be used to describe the acoustic properties of a sound source with little standardization between experiments. Local conditions (geographic, geological, oceanographic and meteorological) all have a very substantial impact on the way in which sound propagates from a source through the water to a measurement receiver. As the receiver is often a considerable distance from the source it is usually necessary to measure many other parameters in order to attempt to determine the true nature of the source itself. This report reviews the available data on noise in the oceans produced by the oil and gas industries however; due to the scarcity of data in some areas other noise sources are included in some sections for comparative purposes. The noise levels are presented as the measured values by the researcher and then in an extrapolated form in a consistent set of units. To do this extrapolation a number of assumptions have been made particularly relating to the local conditions under which the measurements were determined and the nature of the source signal. The extrapolated values should be used as guidelines only as the variability of the transmission of sound and the nature of the sound source itself cannot enable an accurate translation between the remotely measured values and the extrapolated (back projected) values.

Link To Publication

Similar Research

Responses of Bottlenose Dolphins to Construction and Demolition of Underwater Structures

Open Access Report 2006

Mote Marine Laboratory

Of all of the anthropogenic noise sources in the marine environment, construction and demolition noise and their effects have received perhaps the least attention, and yet...
Read More

A Summary of Existing and Future Potential Treatments for Reducing Underwater Sounds from Oil and Gas Industry Activities

Pay-walled Conference 2007


This paper summarizes the efforts undertaken by the author to identify existing and future potential methods to reduce underwater sound levels created by nearly all oil...
Read More

Likely sensitivity of bottlenose dolphins to pile-driving noise

Pay-walled Journal Article 2006

Water and Environment Journal

Pile driver-generated noise has the potential to affect dolphin populations adversely as it is detectable up to 40 km from the source. At 9 kHz, this...
Read More

Tolerance by ringed seals (Phoca hispida) to impact pipe-driving and construction sounds at an oil production island

Pay-walled Journal Article 2004

The Journal of the Acoustical Society of America

During June and July 2000, impact pipe-driving sounds at Northstar Island (Prudhoe Bay, Alaska) were recorded underwater and in air at distances 63–3000 m from the...
Read More

Effects of underwater noise on auditory sensitivity of a cyprinid fish

Pay-walled Journal Article 2001

Hearing Research

The ability of a fish to interpret acoustic information in its environment is crucial for its survival. Thus, it is important to understand how underwater noise...
Read More

Criteria and Thresholds of U.S. Navy Acoustic and Explosive Effects Analysis.

Open Access Report 2012

Space and Naval Warfare Systems Command Systems Centre Pacific

Sounds produced from naval activities can be divided into seven categories: (1) Sonars and other active acoustic sources; (2) Explosive detonations; (3) Ship noise; (4) Aircrafts...
Read More

Seal monitoring and evaluation for the Gemini offshore windpark: T-construction

Open Access Report 2016


1. Gemini offshore windfarm is located 55 km north of the island of Schiermonnikoog. The construction works for the 150 wind turbines and electrical infrastructure were...
Read More

Pressure pulse characteristics of deep explosions as functions of depth and range.

Open Access Report 1967

Naval Ordnance Laboratory

Thirty-eight TNT ant 18 HBX-3 charges weighing one, eight, and fifty pounds were fired at depths betweeen 500 and 14,000 ft; pressure-time data were measured directly...
Read More
Keywords: Depth, Explosion, Pressure

Ambient Underwater Noise Levels at Norra Midsjöbanken during Construction of the Nord Stream Pipeline.

Open Access Journal Article 2012

Nord Stream

Norra Midsjöbanken is a Natura 2000 area situated approximately 50 km east of the southern tip of Öland island in the Swedish Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ)....
Read More

Agreement in Principal for Interim Criteria for Injury to Fish from Pile Driving Activities.

Open Access Meeting documents, Notices 2008

National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration

A letter to discuss the agreement of interim criteria for injury to fish from pile driving activities....
Read More
Keywords: Fish, Injury, Pile driving