1.11.5 Liability concerning Antarctic mineral resource activities
XV-2. Comprehensive measures for the protection of the
Antarctic environment and dependent and associated
Recalling the adoption on 2 June 1988, by the Fourth Special Antarctic
Treaty Consultative Meeting on Antarctic Mineral Resources of the
Convention on the Regulation of Antarctic Mineral Resource Activities
and the importance of the issue of liability.
Recommend to their Governments that:
A meeting be held in 1990 to explore and discuss all proposals relating to
Article 8 (7) of the Convention on the Regulation of Antarctic Mineral
Extract from Report of XVIth ATCM, Annex B(viii)
Report to the XVIth Antarctic Treaty Consultative Meeting on the meeting held
pursuant to Recommendation XV-2
Recommendation XV-2 on 'Comprehensive measures for the protection
of the Antarctic environment and dependent and associated ecosystems'
envisaged that a meeting be held in 1990 to 'explore and discuss all
proposals relating to Article 8(7) of the Convention on the Regulation of
Antarctic Mineral Resource Activities'.
Pursuant to this mandate the meeting was held on Thursday 29 November 1990 in
Viņa del Mar, Chile, and was attended by representatives of the 26 Antarctic Treaty
Consultative Parties and 10 other Contracting Parties to the Antarctic Treaty.
Professor Francisco Orrego Vicuņa, Representative of Chile, was elected Chairman.
In accordance with the terms of Recommendation XV-2 the meeting heard all the
proposals and views on the issue of liability that were expressed in the course of these
deliberations. The following delegations made statements on this occasion:
Argentina, Australia, Austria, Belgium, Chile, the People's Republic of China,
Denmark France, Germany, Greece, India, Italy, The Netherlands, Norway, Sweden,
South Africa, the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics, the United Kingdom of Great
Britain and Northern Ireland and the United States of America.
The Meeting agreed that on the basis of all proposals and views expressed on the
subject, the Antarctic Treaty Consultative Parties may consider further the issue of
liability at the appropriate time.
1.11.6 Report of the Group of Experts on Mineral Exploration and Exploitation, London 1977
1. The Group of Experts was established in accordance with Recommendation VIII-
14, operative paragraph 4, and the Report of the Special Preparatory Meeting held in
Paris in June 1976. The Group met between 20 and 29 September 1977.
2. The Group conducted its business according to the terms of reference established
at the Special Preparatory Meeting and guidelines submitted to the Plenary.
3. At its first session the Group elected Dr M.W. Holdgate (United Kingdom) as its
4. The Group adopted the following agenda:
5. The attached record of the discussions and conclusions of the Group of Experts is
presented in the following order:
- To review the present state of technology for exploration and exploitation of
minerals in the Antarctic
- geophysical and other exploratory techniques
- construction techniques for onshore or offshore installations
- drilling and other extraction techniques
- processing and storage techniques
- transport techniques.
- To review the probable impact of such exploration and exploitation on the
- To review measures for the prevention or restoration of damage to the
- techniques for the prevention of pollution
- remedial and restorative techniques
- techniques for monitoring
- techniques for the assessment (prediction) of environmental impact.
- To suggest preliminary guidelines on appropriate methods for exploration and
exploitation and on preventive, corrective and restorative measures for the
protection of the environment.
6. In presenting their Report to Plenary the Group noted that the implementation of
all the guidelines, including the proposals for scientific research, set out in the Report
would demand substantial effort before exploratory drilling or the extraction of
hydrocarbons or other minerals began (if this in fact were to occur) in the Antarctic.
- Guidelines on appropriate methods for mineral exploration and exploitation in
the Antarctic, and for the protection of the environment.
- A record of the Group's discussion, arranged in accordance with Items I-III of
7. The Group also stressed that these guidelines would need regular review as
technology and scientific understanding advanced. The standards, pollution levels,
environmental impact and other parameters referred to in the Guidelines and Report
would also need careful quantification.
I. Guidelines on appropriate methods for mineral exploration and exploitation in the Antarctic, and for the protection of the environment
8. The Group of Experts consider that were it thought possible to commence mineral
exploration or exploitation in the Antarctic, guidelines would need to be developed
and agreed covering scientific baseline studies, site studies, environmental impact
assessment and many technical details of the actual operation of activities related to
9. Not only should existing international agreements such as those on safety at sea,
pollution from shipping, dumping at sea and other marine environmental matters be
upheld, but consideration should be given to the development (in pursuance of
Recommendation VIII-11) of special rules related to the exacting climatic conditions
of the Antarctic, and the importance of safeguarding its unique environment and
10. Programmes of scientific research, monitoring and information exchange should
be set in hand, according to procedures established by Consultative Meetings under
the Antarctic Treaty, so as to provide as complete a foundation as possible before
exploration or exploitation is likely to be considered.
Geological and Geophysical Investigations Prior to Exploratory Drilling for
11. Areas which may contain hydrocarbons are likely to be identified only after
extensive, basic geophysical and geological surveys. Before any exploratory drilling
was undertaken there would be a need for further detailed geological and geophysical
studies and the investigation of environment factors that determine the feasibility of
safe drilling operations. This second category of information should include sea-state
data; weather trends during different seasons; currents; pack-ice distribution, types
and pressures; iceberg size, frequency, drift rate and direction; and location of
contemporary iceberg scour. Information is also needed about the composition,
stability and strength of sea-bed sediments and strata on which installations might be
12. Most established geological and geophysical techniques, including geological and
geochemical surveys and magnetic, gravimetric and seismic profiling systems, can be
used safely and successfully for exploration for mineral resources in the Antarctic at
appropriate seasons. Their initial environmental impact is likely to be no greater than
that of present research activities, and can probably be controlled in the way that
research is controlled (for example under the Agreed Measures for the Protection of
Antarctic Fauna and Flora), but revised standards may be required should there be a
marked increase in the scale of these activities.
13. Seismic techniques using high explosives as an energy source are required for
geophysical research on deep crustal structures, and may be used occasionally in
hydrocarbon exploration at sea, to confirm the findings of other methods. However,
the detonation of explosives can have severe local impact on the biota and their use
should be kept to a minimum. They should not be used on land (or in fresh waters) of
biological or geomorphological interest.
Exploratory drilling for hydrocarbons at sea
14. Before any exploratory drilling is undertaken, there should be foundation
investigations using methods such as high-resolution seismic and a range of physical
studies of sea-bed conditions at the proposed drill site.
15. Because of the special environmental conditions and environmental sensitivity,
any exploratory drilling in the Antarctic should be arranged with particularly
thorough attention to safety precautions, both in the design of the equipment and
installations and in its operation.
16. Floating structures used for exploratory drilling in the Antarctic should conduct
their operations so as to be able to stop drilling rapidly and move away when
threatened by icebergs, and subsequently recover their boreholes, without risk of
pollution. Because it is most efficient to undertake such disconnection in an orderly
way, early warning of approaching icebergs and storms that might also require
movement off station is essential.
17. There is a divergence of expert opinion on how far technological developments
might permit exploratory drilling from installations on the sea bed within the mid-
term (10-25 years). Such developments would allow operations in areas inaccessible
at present (although not below ice shelves). It would be essential for such
installations (and similar sea-bed installations used in exploitation) to be located in
areas not liable to iceberg scour.
18. Platforms and other installations for use for oil exploration or exploitation in the
Antarctic should, wherever possible, be constructed outside the region and towed to
their location. On-shore bases for the support of exploratory and exploitative
activities should be kept as few and as small as possible and sited with great care so
that the least possible environmental damage results. Installations for oil exploitation
in the Antarctic should be as self-contained as possible.
19. Under the exacting conditions of the Antarctic, and because of its environmental
sensitivity, special attention should be given to the thorough training of technical
personnel and to the elaboration and enforcement of strict codes of conduct
governing drilling operations.
Design of installations for the exploitation of hydrocarbons at sea
20. There is no technology presently suited to year-round oil production in the
Antarctic. The concepts behind such potential technology are being developed
actively, and may lead in the direction of self-contained, unmanned installations on
the sea bed. It is important that guidelines are agreed to ensure that design,
installation and maintenance are to the highest standard so as to prevent pollution,
waste of energy and other resources, and hazard to human life. These guidelines will
need continual review as the technology is developed.
21. Risk analyses should be performed to identify possible modes of failure of
installations under the extreme environmental conditions of the Antarctic (which
would need careful definition to this end), or through accident, and provision should
be made for redundant paths or systems to insure against serious failure.
22. High standards should be set for the processing of hydrocarbons exploited in the
Antarctic. As a general rule, gas should not be flared but used to provide energy for
local needs, re-injected, or exported from the Antarctic. Water emerging with the oil
should be re-injected.
23. Storage systems should be designed so as to ensure that hydrocarbons are
separated from displaced seawater in accordance with agreed standards.
24. Further studies are needed in order to develop suitable vessels for use in the the
transportation of hydrocarbons from the Antarctic. These vessels should conform to
advanced design standards and include systems for the prevention of the discharge of
oily ballast water or polluted seawater south of 60 South.
Mineral Exploration and Exploitation on Land
25. Exploratory drilling is unlikely to be undertaken widely on land in the Antarctic,
but should be carefully localised and controlled so as to minimise the disturbance of
vulnerable Antarctic soils and the importation of chemical and microbial
26. Although the mining of minerals on land in the Antarctic is not likely in the
foreseeable future, were it to occur severe local impact could be caused. This could
also result from quarrying of aggregate and rocks for use in construction. Processing
of ores would demand substantial energy and water, and generate large volumes of
wastes. Sites and associated transport routes for any such mining or quarrying need a
thorough environmental evaluation, and its operation would need careful monitoring
to minimise damage.
Environmental Impact Assessment and Environmental Protection or Rehabilitation
27. Methods for environmental impact assessment in the Antarctic should be
developed in accordance with recent developments in the concept. Such assessments
should involve the close association of environmental scientists, specialists in the
technology of mineral exploration and exploitation, and others concerned with the
regulation of such activities. Impact assessment should be so conducted as to aid the
adjustment of proposed developments so as to reduce their environmental effects, and
should lead on to continuing monitoring.
28. Methods for the containment, recovery or safe dispersion of oil spilled at sea in
the Antarctic in all but ideal conditions do not exist at present, and need urgent
development. Research on this topic (or on that described in the following
paragraph) should not, however, involve the deliberate release of oil into the sea in
29. Knowledge is insufficient at present to allow reliable estimation of the impact of
possible oil spills on Antarctic ecosystems, and it is vital that research on this subject
30. There are no effective methods for the full restoration of sites on land, on ice, or
at sea in the Antarctic disturbed by mineral exploration or exploitation. Artificial re-
vegetation of land areas, as practised in the Arctic, does not appear appropriate in the
Antarctic because of differing habitat conditions and a lack of suitable indigenous
plant species. The most that can be done is to grade land surfaces and remove all
possible extraneous material.
II. Record of the discussion of the Group of Experts.
A . Review of the present state of technology for exploration and
exploitation of minerals in the Antarctic
i. General considerations
31. In discussing mineral exploration and exploitation techniques it is desirable to
discriminate between the position on land (and there between ice-free and ice-
covered terrain) and at sea. Marine situations should be examined in three categories:
areas of sea bed situated beneath floating ice shelves several hundred metres thick,
areas beneath pack ice that persists for nine or more months in the year, and areas
beneath seas open for at least three summer months.
32. It is useful to distinguish three successive stages in the process commencing with
exploration and ending in the exploitation of minerals.. These stages are:
33. Although there is a wide range of opinions concerning the likely location and
extent of hydrocarbon and other mineral deposits in the Antarctic, at present there is
no proof that significant deposits exist south of latitude 60 South. However, the
Group agrees with a number of previous national and international evaluations,
including those by SCAR, that exploration for hydrocarbons on the continental
margins around Antarctica is foreseeable, and commercial exploitation is a possibility
in the longer term. The exploitation of metallic minerals and fossil fuels on land
appears much less probable in the foreseeable future, while there are more accessible
deposits in other regions, but it would be unwise to exclude it completely. Should
offshore oil or gas reserves be exploited, moreover, there could be onshore mining of
rocks and quarrying of aggregates for use in construction. While the technology for
exploration for, and exploitation of, hydrocarbons has received most urgent attention
therefore, some attention has been given to that employed for other minerals.
- basic exploration, which involves many activities inseparable from those in
normal scientific geological and geophysical research and seeks to define the
structures of the strata most promising for detailed examination;
- exploratory drilling in restricted areas chosen as a result of such preliminary
- full-scale exploitation.
34. The Antarctic remains one of the world's least known regions. Much of its land
surface is mantled in ice, and its shallow seas obscured by ice shelves and pack. The
development and application of geophysical methods, especially those employing
remote sensing, are vital to its exploration for science, irrespective of possible
mineral exploitation. Only approximately 1 per cent of other geologically
comparable areas contain hydrocarbon resources, so that most of this exploration is
unlikely to lead to possible commercial development.
35. Exploration or exploitation of hydrocarbons seems likely to be technically
feasible at some time, but estimates of the likely time scale vary and there was a wide
divergence of views in the Group. No delegation believed that exploratory drilling in
the Antarctic would begin in less than five years, and most of the experts considered
that it was unlikely in less than ten years. The time scale for possible exploitation is
even more uncertain, but in the much less exacting conditions of the North Sea, ten
years elapsed between exploratory drilling and the commencement of exploitation.
36. It is important that a sufficient environmental data base to allow wise decisions
about the conduct of exploratory drilling is obtained. Information is needed about sea
states and depths; the persistence of storms and of spells of good weather; currents;
pack ice (including pressures in pack); iceberg size, depths, frequency and rate of
movement; and the depths of iceberg scour in areas that might be explored for
hydrocarbons. In such areas information is also needed on the composition and
stability of sea-bed sediments and rocks to which structures might be moored or on
which they could be based. Areas of faulting and slumping, which could threaten the
integrity of structures, need to be defined. Techniques to determine all these features
are available (including side scan sonar and high-resolution seismic studies of the sea
bed) but this programme of data gathering could well take ten years.
37. The design of structures for drilling, production, oil collection, processing,
storage and transportation of the final products from the Antarctic must be based on
recommended practices. Guidelines will need to be laid down to ensure that
structures are designed, installed and maintained in a manner that provides safeguards
against pollution, the waste of resources, or risks to life.
ii. Geophysical and other exploratory techniques
38. Geophysical exploration needs to be combined with other techniques. On land
the continued mapping of ice thickness and sub-ice relief and the extension of
geological investigations are needed as well as gravimetric, magnetic or seismic
investigations if crustal structures are to be defined. At sea bathymetric surveys and
geological sampling of the sea bed are important, alongside more specialised
39. Aeromagnetic techniques using a fairly widely spaced network of traverse lines
are particularly appropriate to the search for basins containing substantial thicknesses
of sediment. At sea, methods involving the sampling of water just above the sea bed
in the search for traces of hydrocarbon seepage is another possible environmentally
safe technology, as a supplement to the seismic studies that are likely to be instituted
on an increasing scale.
40. Seismic surveys undertaken at sea involve two kinds of technique. Reflection
methods, now widely used by the petroleum industry, involve long multi-channel
arrays and energy sources which include non-explosive systems (such as 'air guns').
Despite the problems posed by sea ice, these systems can be used in many parts of the
Antarctic at certain seasons. They can give penetration of the sea bed for up to 10-15
km, which is sufficient for exploration for hydrocarbon minerals and they have no
damaging impact on the marine flora and fauna. However, additional velocity
iknformation may be required, and therefore many commercial operations also use
refraction methods to a limited degree. These methods involve 'air guns', or
occasionally high explosives. Use of explosives is not considered essential in
exploring for hydrocarbons, and it has been prohibited in some regions (such as the
Norwegian continental shelf) because of the severe local damage it can cause to the
41. Refraction seismic studies using explosives, on the other hand, are unavoidable at
present in certain fundamental fields of crustal geophysics where the aim is to study
deep structure (to 30-40 km) as when examining the relationship between the
Antarctic and other continents.
42. While satisfactory geophysical methods appear to be available for scientific
exploration and the search for minerals in Antarctica, there are dangers in over-
generalisation.One thing is, however, clear.The present ignorance of the structure of
much of the Antarctic land and continental margin , coupled with the hostile
environment and the extent of ice cover, means that the exploratory phase is likely to
be prolonged in most areas, before exploratory drilling could be considered.
iii. Drilling and other extraction techniques
43. Considerable experience of drilling has been gained on land in the joint Japanese-
New Zealand-United States Dry Valley Drilling Project. Technology developed in
the Arctic could be used under certain conditions to explore for and exploit
hydrocarbons on land in the Antarctic. Conversely no technology exists for drilling
through moving ice-sheets on land and it is unlikely that there will be much incentive
to develop it.
44. In considering off-shore drilling technology it is useful to discriminate between
strictly technological aspects (for example relating to platforms, drilling systems or
prevention of blow-outs) and environmental factors determining the period for which
drilling is feasible and the special hazards to be guarded against.
45. It is important to discriminate between drilling to only shallow depths to obtain
geological samples of sea-bed strata for scientific purposes and exploratory drilling
for hydrocarbons. The latter requires blow-out preventers and other safety devices
while the former may not. Generally shallow drilling to confirm sea-bed geology
should precede deep drilling for hydrocarbons.
46. Technology already exists for drilling from dynamically positioned mobile
structures in depths below 1,000 m. It appears theoretically possible in the Antarctic
in areas free of ice and where massive icebergs are infrequent for at least three
months in summer. Such areas are rare and of very limited extent. Thorough studies
of environmental conditions in such areas would be required before operations could
be conducted without risk.
47. The Group was informed by several delegations of the development of
technology (such as large floating caisson structures) in their countries that would
allow drilling in deeper waters and in areas covered with Arctic pack ice throughout
the year. Such technology would need very careful evaluation before its use was
considered in the Antarctic, but it might allow the exploration of larger areas on the
Antarctic margin (but not the regions below thick ice shelves).
48. Experience off Labrador has come from the use of a Pelican-type dynamically
positioned ship. Such a vessel may not be ideal for exploratory drilling in the
Antarctic and a floating dynamically positioned structure may be preferable.
49. Ice conditions in the Antarctic, which differ in many ways from those in the
Arctic, pose certain special problems. There is an annual discharge to the oceans
around Antarctica of about 4,000 km3 of icebergs, many of which persist for several
years. Antarctic icebergs are much larger, and many could not readily be towed away
from a drilling platform. A platform would therefore need to be able to cease work
and move away if threatened. Experience off Labrador confirms that towing can
change the direction of drift of the smaller icebergs sufficiently to approximately
halve the number of times the drilling vessel needs to disconnect from the borehole,
but in the Antarctic the benefit might be considerably less. Towing is at present
impracticable with icebergs exceeding two million tonnes weight, and when the sea is
rough, or the berg inconveniently shaped or unstable.
50. Technology exists for shutting down and disconnecting from wells, and re-
entering them afterwards without risk of pollution, but it is desirable to conduct the
shut-down process in an orderly fashion because this facilitates re-entry, and hence an
effective 'early warning' system of approaching icebergs would be needed. Forecasts
of the frequency of such encounters are also required since drilling would be
unacceptably protracted if it had to stop very often. Such operations would also
demand reliable meteorological information in advance of developing storms.
Environmental studies designed to ensure the safety of exploratory drilling activities
appear to need urgent development.
51. Exploratory drilling is not an end in itself. It costs large sums, and is undertaken
in the hope that it will lead on to exploitation. Hence the technology for exploration
and exploitation needs to be considered together, but there is the important difference
that while the former can be done satisfactorily in areas of sea open for three months
in summer, the latter demands operations for a much longer period, for which there is
no technology appropriate to the Antarctic at present.
52. It is important to discriminate between the process of drilling (whether for
exploration or production wells) and the control of production. Drilling is always
done at present from ships or platforms at the sea surface, but there are several
systems allowing control of production wells by structures on the sea bed. At present
all of these are in shallow water and many are controlled from a surface vessel to
which oil is piped.
53. Existing technology does not appear suitable for exploratory drilling in those
parts of the Antarctic seas covered almost throughout the year by pack and fast ice of
many years' accumulation or by floating ice shelves and glaciers. For these reasons
most of the seas on the Antarctic margin are inaccessible for exploratory drilling at
present, and fixed or floating platforms of the kind used in oil exploitation today
seem equally unsuited to these areas. Technology permitting drilling from
installations on the sea bed in other regions is being developed and may help to
overcome this obstacle except in those areas where icebergs ground on the sea bed.
Advances are also being made in the design of systems both for drilling and operating
production wells on or below the sea bed in deep waters. The water depth presents no
inherent problem because such systems would be unmanned and their maintenance
would be likely to be undertaken by submarines rather than divers. Such systems
have not yet been developed for the conditions prevailing in the Antarctic.
iv. Construction techniques for on-shore and off-shore installations
54. At present several kinds of platform are used in oil exploitation at sea. Fixed
structures of concrete or steel are being used today in depths of water down to 130
and 300 m respectively, and have been developed for safe operation even in seismic
zones. One floating platform, linked by risers to production wells, is in use in the
North Sea. About 100 underwater well-head systems are in use, mainly in shallow
water and none below 300 m. Despite considerable advances in the design of
platforms, risers (the link between ocean floor and surface platform) and safety
devices, none of these platform systems is suitable in their present form for
installation in the Antarctic. While considerable progress has been made in
developing surface platforms to withstand storms, and pack ice, none is proof against
icebergs on an Antarctic scale. At the present, the design of equipment for use in oil
exploitation in the Antarctic remains in the conceptual stage.
55. The first action in evaluating a newly discovered oilfield is to determine its size,
and where the technology for exploitation is very expensive, a field needs to be very
large if it is to be worth exploiting. In the Antarctic a further constraint would be
imposed by limited access. It is difficult to envisage any Antarctic oilfield being
exploited if it were only accessible to transport removing the production for three
months of the year even though this period would suffice for the actual drilling of
56. In the North Sea, using today's technology (but with year-round access), before
an oilfield is exploited the potential recoverable reserves need to be of the order over
100-200 million barrels. In the Antarctic it is likely that only very large fields would
be attractive for exploitation. The limit will however depend on world energy costs
and on the available technology in the future. Should oilfields be found and
technology allow their exploitation, it would be unwise to assume that they might not
57. Any structures used for oil exploitation in the Antarctic would almost certainly be
constructed in a region of warmer waters outside the region and towed to the point of
installation. There are no technological problems in this process, but seas in the area
of installation would need to be ice-free at least for the period of 1-3 days needed for
58. The logistic support of exploitation activities will also need careful planning. It
could involve the construction of supply bases on land in the Antarctic if there were
suitable sites nearby, or outside the region (the latter being the more likely).
Structures used in the Antarctic are likely to be more self-contained than those used
elsewhere, in less exacting climates. These features are likely to reduce the extent of
major construction activities on land with their associated environmental impact.
59. Should mineral exploration or exploitation occur on-shore the associated
construction of bases for support personnel, processing plant, or other installations
would be possible adapting technology already developed in Arctic regions and in the
building of the larger Antarctic stations.
v. Processing and storage operations: hydrocarbon minerals at sea
60. All oil emerging from a well is a mixture of liquid hydrocarbons, gas and
(especially as the exploitation of a field continues) water. The gas needs to be
separated from the oil before the latter can be transported (since transport of oil in
tankers takes place at atmospheric pressure). The hydrocarbon gases produced are
generally either flared (burned) or re-injected thereby maintaining pressure and
helping continued exploitation. The water is separated from the oil and can also be
injected back into the oil reservoir or into some other strata.
61. Existing technology for this separation and reinjection could be employed in any
fixed or floating surface production platforms used in the Antarctic (it would be more
difficult to liquefy the separated gas and remove it for marketing). Some gas could
be used as a fuel, for power drilling and other operations: the Group advises that gas
should not generally be flared in the Antarctic (Guidelines paragraph 15).
Appropriate technology which has also been developed and tested in production
wellhead structures on the sea bed, operated by remote control from the surface,
could be developed as an integral part of the perfection of such submerged structures
for use in the Antarctic.
62. Substantial storage capacity might be required at installations at sea from which
separated oil was loaded directly into ships, because of the inevitable interruption of
surface shipping operations by storms, and occasionally by heavy pack or icebergs.
Even sub-sea installations loading into submarine tankers might require considerable
vi. Processing and storage operations: minerals on land
63. If minerals were exploited on-shore in the Antarctic, it is likely that they would
also (as elsewhere in the world) need to be enriched before transport away from the
mining area. This processing would demand substantial installations, although the
technology would be likely to be the same as was applied elsewhere, for example in
the Arctic. Large amounts of fuel would be required since the processing of such
ores is an energy-intensive process. Large volumes of water would also be needed -
again demanding energy, in most parts of the Antarctic, to melt ice. substantial
volumes of wastes would be produced.
vii. Transport techniques
64. Transport would be required for two purposes should mineral exploration or
exploitation occur in the Antarctic. It would be needed to support personnel and
installations and to remove the products of their activities. Present technology, as
used to supply Antarctic bases, would be adequate for the support role although the
volume of equipment and numbers of people moved might be much greater (in
exploratory drilling two or three service ships might be needed to support the 100 or
so men on a rig and the tugs employed in iceberg towing). Small storage bases might
be needed on shore should this be possible near enough to areas being explored.
However, exploitation of hydrocarbons would require a considerable increase in the
number of personnel at drilling installations, with the possible resulting need to build
land bases with the least possible damage to the environment.
65. It seems likely that separated oil would be loaded directly into ships at
installations at sea for removal from the Antarctic. Either specially designed surface
vessels or submarines could be used to remove oil. Information obtained during the
voyage of the 'Manhattan' may allow the design of tankers that could operate
commercially through Arctic pack ice. The attraction of submarines lies in their
greater certainty of year-round access. The concepts behind the design of both types
of vessel are being explored actively, and it is likely that technology would be
available by the time Antarctic oil exploitation became possible on other grounds.
Pipelines, however, provide a third option. Their use is unlikely in many parts of the
Antarctic, especially because of iceberg scour but also because there is little attraction
in removing oil from the open sea to coastal areas which might be no more easily
accessible by tankers; modern techniques of tunnelling in the sea floor at depths of up
to 300 m could possibly be developed to the point where pipelines could be
B. Environmental impact of mineral exploration and exploitation
66. The Group of Experts could not undertake a thorough study of the impact of
mineral exploration and exploitation on the Antarctic environment. However, the
discussion of the technical aspects of mineral exploration and exploitation in the
Antarctic showed that the question of the impact of these activities on the
environment has been studied very inadequately and that there is an urgent need for a
further examination of this problem. The Group considers that measures for the
protection of the Antarctic environment need to be worked out prior to any
commercial exploration for, or exploitation of mineral resources in Antarctica, should
such activities occur there.
67. The Group had before it the Report of the SCAR Group of Specialists on the
Environmental Impact Assessment of Mineral Exploration/Exploitation in
Antarctica(EAMREA) prepared at the request of the Eighth Consultative Meeting
and the Special Preparatory Meeting in Paris in June 1976. Attention was also
drawn to a number of other papers, including those presented to the Special
Preparatory Meeting in Paris by the Soviet Delegation and by the Australian
Delegation, and the summary of the Report on Environmental Impact Assessment by
Dr D.H. Elliot. The Group of Experts considered that the EAMREA Report, taken in
conjunction with the other papers, provided a useful starting point for the assessment
of the likely impact on the Antarctic environment of various possible technological
developments and for the development of a programme to provide more precise
68. The Group advised the Consultative Meeting that technological and ecological
experts need to work together in the further evaluation of these questions. Only
through a direct interaction of this kind will it be possible to define the ways in which
new technological advances may alter physical and chemical properties of the
Antarctic as a habitat and apply the most recent advances in scientific understanding
of Antarctic environments and ecosystems so as to predict the ecological changes that
are likely to result. A series of carefully prepared expert seminars or workshops
bringing together appropriate specialists may well provide the most effective forum
for this dialogue.
69. More research will unquestionably be required before satisfactory predictions
can be made of the nature and scale of the impact of possible alternative mineral
exploration and exploitation technologies in the Antarctic. Opinions expressed in the
Report (e.g. in paragraphs 12, 13 and 26 of the Guidelines and paragraphs 39, 40 and
50 of the Record of the Group's discussions should be regarded as provisional,
pending such research). The Group did not attempt to specify all the subjects
needing attention, but did identify the following areas:
Ecologists who were members of the Group stressed the need for selection, based
on a critical analysis of existing knowledge, in the development of this research
programme. It would be quite impossible to measure all environmental variables, or
describe all Antarctic ecosystems in detail. The dialogue between technological and
ecological experts described in paragraph 68 should have as a major objective the
selection of key factors and organisms for detailed study.
- basic bathymetric, geological, geophysical and geochemical studies leading to
a more realistic definition of those areas in the Antarctic where exploration
for minerals may be considered, and where surveys consequently need to be
undertaken to define environmental and ecological features;
- research leading to improved weather forecasting, and data on current
directions and velocities and on the distribution and frequency of occurrence
of various sea states, ice conditions and icebergs of various dimensions;
- definition of the fundamental structure and functioning of those types of
Antarctic ecosystem most likely to be affected by mineral exploration and
exploitation, including the flow of nutrients and energy through the system
and primary and secondary biological production (and the factors influencing
them). Simulation modelling of the essential processes within these
ecosystems could assist the prediction of how they are likely to respond to
- surveys to determine baseline levels in the environment (including ice caps)
and in plants and animals of hydrocarbons and other substances whose
environmental concentrations may be raised as a consequence of mineral
exploration and exploitation;
- research to establish quantitatively the effect on Antarctic organisms which
are particularly important ecologically or economically (e.g. krill) of a range
of concentrations of hydrocarbons and other possible pollutants;
- research on the mechanism and rate of biodegradation of oils of various kinds
under Antarctic conditions (it being emphasised that this research should not
involve the deliberate liberation of oil in the Antarctic).
70. The first of these areas of research is equally important if the potential of the
Antarctic as a source of minerals is to be evaluated. The Group recorded its view that
the estimate published in the Oil and Gas Journal for November 1976 and quoted in
the Report of the SCAR EAMREA Group that 45 billion barrels of oil and 115
trillion cubic feet of gas 'may' occur on parts of the Antarctic continental margin,
even with the qualifications attached to it by the EAMREA Group, was only a
speculation and should not be cited unless supported by much firmer evidence.
71. There are other fields of research which the Group noted as essential if
exploration for minerals in the Antarctic was to be properly directed, and its impact
predicted and controlled. The studies mentioned in paragraph 69(ii) above fall into
this category and form part of the data base that the Group considered was essential
before exploration for hydrocarbons could safely begin on the Antarctic margin. The
following other topics were mentioned:
72. If mineral exploration or exploitation were to occur in the Antarctic it would be
essential to monitor both the operations themselves and consequential changes in the
environment. There would need to be a system providing immediate warning of an
accident leading to significant pollution and monitoring of the dispersion and effects
of the pollutants released, and of the effectiveness of any measures for containment
or recovery. This would be particularly difficult under Antarctic conditions.
- detailed site investigations in areas that might possibly be considered for
- research on methods for the containment, recovery or safe dispersal of spilled
oil (the Group emphasised that this was a topic of the highest priority);
- studies on the likely physical condition of oil spilled on the cold Antarctic
seas, and on mathematical models for the prediction of the movements of oil
slicks under Antarctic conditions (there are numerous existing models,
developed in other regions, which would provide a starting point);
- techniques for the safe disposal of wastes arising from mineral exploration
and exploitation in the Antarctic.
C. Measures for the prevention or restoration of damage to the
i. Prevention of Pollution by Oil
73. Problems of oil pollution can arise during drilling (whether for exploration or
production), extraction, processing, storage or transportation under both normal
operations and in the event of accident.Some delegations considered that these
problems may be especially acute in the very cold Antarctic seas where the natural
degradation of oil is likely to be extremely slow.
74. Thorough surveys in advance of drilling are essential for the prevention of
pollution. High-resolution seismic studies can detect layers where gas pockets may
be encountered near the surface. Pressure measurement is also desirable during
drilling. In a permafrost environment frozen hydrates (or hydrates and oil) may
sometimes be encountered and present an added hazard.
75. At any time during drilling, fluid under pressure (gas, oil or water) may be
encountered. It is therefore important to maintain at all times all the equipment and
materials necessary to control unexpected pressure. This equipment includes blow-
out preventers, communications and remote control equipment, reserves of mud, and
additives and degasification equipment. It should be noted that these muds may
contain special additives to make them suitable for use in the Antarctic and these
have a potential to cause some local pollution if released in the environment. When
the well has reached a certain depth casing is carried out. Casing of a well is a very
important safety factor, and it will be necessary to determine the length of each
casing appropriate to the nature of the rock formation and the pressures that may be
encountered. Cementing practices must be good enough to ensure that oil cannot
escape laterally through the casing into flanking rocks and ultimately to the surface.
Over-design is essential in exploration wells in new areas.
76. Additional pollution prevention measures should include proper procedures for
well work-over (including the cleaning of operating systems, and replacement of
components). These are naturally vulnerable operations because some control
equipment is often itself taken out of use, and precautions must be especially strict in
77. Accidents on oil rigs, leading to environmental hazard, commonly involve
human error and no technology can eliminate this, but it can reduce its probability
and the scale of the consequences. Generally speaking human errors are commonest
in routine operations involving less qualified personnel. In opening up a new region,
in an exploratory phase, highly skilled staff are likely to be employed and the risk of
error reduced. Because the Antarctic is a peculiarly hostile environment, more than
normal care is likely to be taken during the early stages. The risks from human error
are likely to increase once there is a transition from exploration to exploitation, with a
strong element of routine. But there is no reason to predict a higher likelihood of
human error in the Antarctic than elsewhere (the reverse is more likely) because
operating conditions are never likely to be easy. Therefore, the training of personnel
is an essential element in these safety precautions, and this must include 'refresher'
courses bringing staff up to date with new methods.
78. On drilling platforms at sea the prevention of pollution is of the first importance
because opportunities for rehabilitation if spillage occurs are few or non-existent
under the exacting conditions of the Antarctic. It is essential to undertake exploration
cautiously, to prevent blow-outs. It is essential to be able to stop and re-start drilling,
and to abandon and re-enter wells without risk of pollution: wherever possible
equipment should be recovered before the link with a well is severed but in
emergency a platform can move off station in under a minute without risk of
pollution. With sound technology, training and vigilance, the risk of blow-outs
would be very small.
79. The maintenance and repair of Antarctic installations and anti-corrosion
measures (for example the use of sacrificial anodes) may also have some
80. Where drilling takes place on land it is important that minimal damage is done to
permafrost soils (wells being sealed as to avoid this), that reservoirs of fuel used to
power drilling are located on an insulated bed, that all fuel tanks are surrounded by
bunds to contain spillage, that care is taken to minimise contamination with oil,
muds, chemicals and micro-organisms, that all debris is incinerated or removed, and
that the land area is afterwards rehabilitated as far as possible It is particularly
important to ensure that water does not penetrate and freeze between the casing
strings of wells, since the resulting expansion could cause bursting and pollution.
81. The techniques of risk analysis, covering fire as well as the other hazards
identified above should be applied in the design of all equipment for use in oil
exploration or exploitation in the Antarctic, and a substantial safety margin provided.
Fire is equally a hazard on land, where its threat is increased by the generally
unavailability of liquid water for fire-fighting except in limited areas near freshwater
lakes and the sea.
82. Oil storage below the sea depends on the displacement of sea water from the
tanks. The interface is always kept within the tank, and there are reliable ways of
preventing hydrocarbons being discharged, but when water is drawn off it is
necessary to separate the oil. Special techniques and standards will need to be drawn
up for seabed storage systems in the Antarctic.
83. A major risk of oil spillage probably lies in the transfer from production wells to
storage and thence to tankers. If seabed pipelines are used, it will be because
technology allows their burial below the depth of iceberg scour, in stable areas not
liable to substantial movements.
84. Tankers to be used in the Antarctic will almost certainly be specially built. In
addition to being ice strengthened and having greater power such tankers will
presumably operate within the guidelines of the safety and marine pollution
prevention conventions to which the Antarctic Treaty nations are signatory. The ship
design, construction and equipment features may include segregated ballast, double
hulls or double bottoms, crude washing, inert gas systems, and discharge monitoring
and control devices or some combination of these. The adoption of such features
would prevent pollution through the discharge of oily ballast water, which remains a
significant source of marine pollution in other areas. It is anticipated that Treaty
Countries would operate their ships in an environmentally safe manner with special
regard for the fragile nature of the Antarctic environment.
85. There are few suitable sites for tanker terminals on land in the Antarctic. If oil
were brought ashore and then exported in tankers, bilge and ballast handling and
treatment facilities might be needed (depending on ship design, discussed in
paragraph 84), and the scale and nature of these must be geared to local needs. A
standard for the permissible maximum oil concentration in process water discharged
to the sea should be set, together with standards for volatile hydrocarbons released to
air: both must depend on assessments of the environmental quality to be sustained. It
is important to note that if tankers arrived in the Antarctic in ballast, from ports
elsewhere, the ballast water could contain a range of dissolved industrial effluents,
and these could bring low concentrations of new contaminants to the Antarctic even
if oil levels in the emissions were satisfactorily controlled.
ii. Prevention of pollution from mining and processing minerals on land
86. Major local pollution could be caused by mining, quarrying and processing of
coal or hard rock mineral resources on land in the Antarctic, especially for elements
like iron, where large volumes of spoil would be produced. Such mining or the
quarrying of construction materials on land could release large amounts of dust,
contaminate drainage with metal salts, and produce tailings or waste heaps with high
concentrations of toxic metals. Not only could these have a deleterious effect on
land, freshwater and inshore marine biota in the vicinity, but they could also be a
hazard to human health, especially if water supplies were contaminated.
87. Areas of Antarctic land damaged by mineral exploration and exploitation cannot
be rehabilitated in the fashion adopted in the Arctic, involving the fertilisation of the
soil and the sowing of the seeds of vascular plants. The two vascular plant species
native to the region are unlikely to be suited to cultivation in this way, the
introduction of alien species would contravene conservation agreements (and be
unlikely to succeed) and the bryophyte vegetation of coastal areas in the Maritime
Antarctic is equally unsuited to propagation. t seems likely therefore that the most
that could be done to restore land sites disturbed by man would be to remove all
equipment and imported debris and shape any disturbed land so as to favour the slow
process of natural colonisation. The rehabilitation of disturbed ice sites on land, or of
areas of sea bed, (other than a clean-up procedure to remove extraneous debris) does
not appear feasible except by slow natural processes.
88. Should oil be spilled at sea in the Antarctic, especially in periods of high wind
and waves or among ice, its recovery or even containment does not appear possible
using present technology. It is essential to take every precaution to prevent the
spillage of oil in the Antarctic because of the risk of unacceptable impact on the
environment, but in case such spillages occur, research into means of containment
and recovery of oil, and perhaps the further development of non-toxic biodegradable
dispersants should be pursued.
1.11.7 Report of the Group of Ecological, Technical and Other
Related Experts on Mineral Exploration and Exploitation in
1. The Group of Experts was established in accordance with Recommendation IX-1,
operative paragraph 3. The Group met in Washington, D.C., between 25 and 29 June
1979, 'with a view to developing scientific programs aimed at:
2. The Group at its first session elected Dr Robert Rutford (United States) as its
- improving predictions of the impact of possible technologies for mineral
exploration and exploitation in the Antarctic, as in Section IIB of the Report
of the Group of Experts, and in Section 5 of the SCAR/EAMREA Group
- developing measures for the prevention of damage to the environment or for
its rehabilitation, in accordance with Section IIC of the Report of the Group
3. The Group adopted the revised agenda.
I. Outline of scientific programs on environmental impacts
4. It was the understanding of the Group that the unique Antarctic ecosystem is
closely related to neighbouring ecosystems and that gross perturbation in one area of
the Antarctic may have effects, however attenuated, both in the Antarctic and in other
areas. The Group recognized that a better understanding of the Antarctic ecosystem
as a whole was an important objective. The Group of Experts considered that the
purpose of the scientific programs with which it was concerned was to obtain
information critical to decisions concerning the possibility of the exploration for and
exploitation of mineral resources in Antarctica, should these activities occur.
5. The Group agreed that scientific, technological, and economic factors indicate
little likelihood of the commercial exploitation of Antarctic mineral resources other
than offshore hydrocarbons in the foreseeable future. Accordingly, scientific
programs to deal with the impacts of mineral activity should be concerned primarily
with that resource.
6. The Group considered that the Report of the Group of Experts to the Ninth
Consultative Meeting and the SCAR/EAMREA report identified information needs
and gaps in knowledge that are little changed since those reports were presented. The
Group noted that the question of geological hazards is referred to in the Report by the
Group of Experts to the Ninth in other sections but is not specifically cited in Section
IIB. No major technological advances were noted that would negate or alter the areas
of concern identified in those reports.
7. The Group, noting the three stages of mineral resource activity identified in
paragraph 32 of the Report of the Group of Experts of the Ninth Consultative
Meeting, considered the kinds of environmental risks and impacts directly associated
with each of these stages:
It was noted that the impacts from many of these activities might be more drastic
in the Antarctic because of the severe environmental conditions, and strict regulation
would be necessary were these activities to occur.
- Stage one, basic exploration was considered to involve negligible
environmental risks except possibly those which might be associated with the
operations of ships in Antarctic waters;
- The second and third stages, exploratory drilling and full scale exploitation,
involve greater environmental risks.
8. The Group suggested that basic and baseline information on the Antarctic
environment is required in order to predict, mitigate, and monitor possible impacts
resulting from mineral resource exploration and exploitation, should such activities
9. It is possible that there is available, as a result of the research activities of the
various nations during the past years, considerable information that through
compilation and analysis, might satisfy part of this information requirement as well
as more clearly identify those areas where further information is required. The
Group acknowledged the admonition of the previous Group of Experts that it would
be quite impossible to measure all of the environmental variables or describe all
Antarctic ecosystems in detail. The selection of key factors is critical to these
10. Ongoing and planned research activities (inter alia, BIOMASS, ISOS, POLEX)
that will concentrate on the Antarctic marine and coastal systems should take account
of the requirements for information outlined in this report in order to avoid
unnecessary duplication of effort.
11. In attempting to fulfill the mandate set forth in the first part of its terms of
reference, the Group agreed that more time and expertise than was available at the
meeting would be necessary for the preparation of detailed research proposals. In
this connection, however, the Group concluded that in relation to the possible
exploitation of hydrocarbons (see para. 5) it would be more cost effective to
contribute towards an improved understanding of the Antarctic ecosystem by means
of sharply focused programs primarily devoted to the marine environment.
12. The Group also concluded that the following four specific areas were particularly
deserving of attention:
13. In the light of these conclusions, the Group felt that it could take a significant
step towards the development of appropriate research programs by concentrating on
the subjects needing attention' set out in paragraph 69 of the Report of the Group of
Experts in order to distinguish between the various sources from which relevant
information might be derived, viz:
- Identification of the structure and dynamics of principal marine, aquatic, and
terrestrial ecosystems that might be impacted by activities associated with
- Identification of key components of the ecosystem and components that might
be the most sensitive indicators of the effects of mineral resource
development and especially of the impact of either catastrophic or gradual
pollution of the Antarctic environment.
- Identification of those areas in Antarctica where mineral exploration and
exploitation activities are more likely to occur.
- Identification of areas of special ecological significance, and areas that might
be particularly vulnerable to disturbance, taking account of the areas defined
pursuant to the previous subparagraph.
14. The approach adopted was to consider each of the major 'subjects needing
attention' and to tabulate them in four columns (see Table on page 254). The Group
did not attempt to differentiate between programs that would be undertaken by
governments and programs that could be undertaken in the course of exploration and
exploitation, should this occur.
- information that may already exist but which needs to be retrieved and
- information that is or might be expected to be available without the initiation
of new research programs;
- information that requires the initiation of new research programs or additional
work on lines already underway in national programs and programs co-
ordinated by SCAR; and
- information that requires the initiation of new or additional research when
prospective regions have been identified with greater precision than has been
done at present.
15. While the Group was conscious that a great deal of relevant information could
have been listed in columns I and II, it was taken as being self-evident that new or
additional research would take account of relevant earlier work and of information
that might be expected to become available from national programs and programs co-
ordinated under the auspices of SCAR. Absence of an entry into columns I and II was
not to be interpreted to imply irrelevance. It was to be taken, rather, that an entry
implies either that a special contribution towards an improved understanding in that
field could be made by analysis of past observations and research programs or that a
special effort should be made to bear in mind the relevance of results derived from
16. In drawing up the table the Group had in mind additional purposes which might
not be immediately apparent. These were:
17. The Group recognized that this tabulation could be considerably refined by
bringing to bear on it additional relevant scientific and technological expertise,
including the discipline of systems analysis.
- to help in arriving at an appreciation of the sequential component in research
that would need to be incorporated in any integrated research plan (e.g. broad-
scale marine geological and geophysical research would be needed before
prospective regions could be identified; knowledge of the biological
significance of pack ice would be needed before characterization of regional
biota could be of relevance in defining certain areas of special biological
- to begin to distinguish between those requirements that were oriented towards
a better understanding of dynamic processes in the Antarctic and others that
were oriented towards a better understanding of particular regions.
18. Bearing in mind that the tabulation represented only a framework within which
appropriate research programs might be developed, the Group believed that the
detailed development of research programs might best be remitted to SCAR which
would profitably involve its Working Groups, Groups of Specialists and other expert
opinion (see Section 5 of the SCAR/EAMREA Group Report). It was also noted that
this consideration was in accord with the advice given in para. 68 of the Report to the
Group of Experts to the Ninth Consultative meeting.
19. The Group, noting the need for the development of research programs aimed at
improving predictions of the possible impact of hydrocarbon exploration and
exploitation in Antarctica, proposed that the Representatives at the Tenth
Consultative Meeting should recommend to their governments that they encourage
SCAR, through their National Antarctic Committees, to define programs, taking
account of the report of this meeting, with the objectives of:
20. The Group was conscious that SCAR had already indicated that costs would be
involved in responding to initiatives on this subject, and it was agreed to draw this to
the attention of the Consultative Parties prior to the Tenth Consultative Meeting.
retrieving and analyzing relevant information from past observations and
ensuring in relation to the needs for information identified by the Group that
effective use is made of existing programs;
identifying and developing new programs that should have priority, taking
account of the length of time required for results to become available.
II. Outline of scientific programs on prevention and rehabilitation
21. The Group of Experts considered Section IIC of the London Report as an
excellent summary of the possible ways that pollutants might be introduced into the
Antarctic environment by mineral resource exploration and exploitation. They
acknowledged that the prevention of damage to the environment is largely dependent
on the establishment of safeguards to prevent the introduction of pollutants and to
protect areas of special significance, both terrestrial and marine. The problem of
prevention of such damage is not restricted to the Antarctic although the unique
environmental conditions found there require the development of special safeguards.
The application of results from ongoing scientific and technological research in other
areas, combined with research specifically related to the impacts of the Antarctic
environment on exploration and exploitation activities, will assist in the development
of measures for the prevention of damage to the Antarctic environment.
22. The development of science programs related to the restoration and/or rehabilitation of damage resulting from mineral resource activities will depend on the
acquisition of an understanding of the Antarctic ecosystem and an assessment of the
possible impacts on that ecosystem. It was deemed premature by the Group to
attempt to outline scientific programs dealing with these matters at this time. Further
consideration should be given to these subjects at a later time by the Consultative
III. Oil contamination of the Antarctic marine environment
23. As suggested by Recommendation IX-6, reports were submitted by Japan and by
the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics on oil contamination of the Antarctic marine
environment. In addition, Argentina submitted a suggestion for the study of pollution
in the Antarctic.
24. The Group particularly noted the following pathways of man-made oil
contamination identified in the Japanese report:
25. The Group particularly noted the following from the Soviet Report:
- from scientific stations in the Antarctic;
- from ships supporting scientific stations, conducting fishing operations or
engaging in marine scientific research in Antarctic waters;
- from water masses contaminated elsewhere and carried by natural forces into
- from possible future petroleum exploration and exploitation in Antarctica.
'From 1974 to 1978, as part of the Soviet Polar Experiment Southern Group
Program, ships of the Soviet Arctic and Antarctic Scientific Research Institute
(AANII) selected samples and examined them for petroleum product content
at 161 points in the Southern Ocean, the Drake Straits, the Scotia Sea, along a
line from Africa to Antarctica (20 east longitude), and along a line from
Antarctica to Australia (132 east longitude). At the end of each trip the
samples were delivered to the AANII, where they were examined by infrared
26. The Group noted with interest the data presented in the Soviet Report concerning
the low levels of hydrocarbons detected in the areas where observations were made.
The Group urged the Consultative Parties and others operating ships or conducting
activities that might introduce oil into the environment to continue their efforts to
reduce possible oil contamination.
'The results showed that the petroleum product level in the samples taken at
the indicated points in the Southern Ocean was in most cases less than 0.03
mg/liter. Some of the concentrations fell within the 0.03-0.08 mg/liter range,
which approaches the sensitivity limit of the method (0.03 mg/liter).
'Most of the values for petroleum product content which were in excess of
0.03 mg/liter were for the frontal zone of the Scotia Sea, where there is a high
level of biological activity. It is possible that the increase in the level of
substances identified as petroleum products is due in some degree to
hydrocarbons of biogenic origin.
'No oil films or patches were observed visually from aboard ship.
'Thus, the results show that in the areas inspected, the Southern Ocean is
virtually free of contamination by petroleum products.'
27. The determination of baseline levels of contamination of the Antarctic marine
environment by oil has been included as a part of the suggested scientific programs
aimed at improving the prediction of the impacts of possible mineral exploration and
exploitation in the Antarctic.
28. The Group noted that up to now the most significant introduction of oil into the
Antarctic marine environment appeared to be from the operation of ships. They
further noted that both national and international groups were conducting research on
oil contamination of marine areas by ships, and on means for its reduction, and that
some of this research would be applicable to the Antarctic environment. They also
noted that current research on the effects of oil in the Arctic marine environment
resulting from offshore oil development would be useful in appraising effects such
activity in the Antarctic, should it occur. The results of these programs should be
taken into account before similar programs are drawn up for the Antarctic.
29. There was inadequate time to consider the Argentine and Japanese suggestions
for the study of pollution in the Antarctic. The Group suggests that the Tenth
Consultative Meeting direct the attention of SCAR to these proposals and to the other
documents submitted to the Group.
Members of the Group of Experts.
Under the chairmanship of Dr M.W. Holdgate (UK) were:
Dr P. Lesta; Dr H.R.G. Laguinge; Mr N.L. Bienati (Argentina); Mr L.F. Backen; Mr T.B.
Curtin (Australia); Dr T. van Autenboer; Mr H. Nolard (Belgium); Dr O. Gonzalez-Ferran; Mr
E. Gonzalez (Chile); Mr Jean-Paul Bloch; MrJ. Nauwelaers; Mr C. Cochard; Mr A. Poueyto;
Mr B. Renard; Mr P. Deffrenne; Mr M. Dorel; Mr J. Duval (France); Mr M. Wakasa; Dr Y.
Yoshida (Japan); Mr R.B. Thomson; Mr T.B. Caughley (New Zealand); Mr E. Bergsaker
(Norway); Prof. Dr A. Urbanek; Prof. K. Birkenmajer (Poland); Dr D.C. Neethling (South
Africa); Mr F.G. Larminie; Dr R.J. Adie (UK); Dr G. Bertrand; Mr J. Dugger; Dr B. Gerswick;
Dr J.C. Behrendt; Lt Cdr J.J. McClelland Jr (USA); Dr V.V. Golitsin; Prof. M.G. Ravich; Mrs
T. Ovchinnikova (USSR).
In this report the term 'continental margin' is used to include the continental shelf, continental
slope and continental rise.
The Group of Experts was informed that this figure originated from an unpublished, highly
provisional calculation, using methodology which has since been revised, in an internal document
within the United States Geological Survey.
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