30 Jul 2021

Marine environment: Dolphin and dugong monitoring in the NT

Australia’s oil and gas industry goes above and beyond legal and regulatory requirements to protect and preserve the marine environments in which it operates.

Important partnerships between oil and gas companies and world class research organisations, such as the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO) and Australian Institute of Marine Science (AIMS) are delivering real outcomes for our oceans and biodiversity. 

This commitment forms part of a wider international effort within the oil and gas industry, led by bodies such as the International Association of Oil & Gas Producers (IOGP), which founded the E&P Sound and Marine Life Joint Industry Programme (JIP) in 2005. 

One example of a company that has displayed this commitment is INPEX, operator of the Ichthys LNG joint venture.

Prior to construction of the Ichthys project, INPEX implemented a monitoring program for coastal dolphins from 20112015, which was eventually extended with a second program from 20162019 during the construction phase as part of a voluntary offset agreement with the NT Government. During this time, three dolphin species were monitored to detect any unnatural changes to population and distribution during the project’s construction. 

INPEX committed to setting new environmental benchmarks by observing the dolphins with the help of local Indigenous rangers. Separately, INPEX also commissioned rangers to monitor dugongs and other marine megafauna in the Gulf of Carpentaria before and following construction of Ichthys to detect any unusual changes to population and distribution. 

During the research, it was determined that the construction activities had no measurable effect on local dolphin populations and that dugong populations were stable, resulting in a win-win for operations and biodiversity and a model of substantial value to future research of marine populations. 

For more information about the dolphin and dugong monitoring programs, click here.

In 2014, INPEX also implemented a long-term integrated marine monitoring and research program at Darwin Harbour in the Northern Territory. The program is set to continue until 2054. Find out more via the INPEX website here