Valuable areas under threat
In many cases, oil and gas exploration and drilling is permitted in or near Marine Protected Areas (MPAs). WWF believes that the threat posed by oil developments - and the oil and gas industry's track record in often failing to protect the environment adequately - makes such developments too big a risk to be allowed near or in MPAs.
However, even if exploration and drilling were prohibited in and around all marine parks and reserves, many areas of high conservation value would still be vulnerable - less than 1%
of the world’s oceans has been declared as MPAs.
Lack of planning and control
At present, environmental concerns are not always routinely considered in plans for offshore oil and gas exploration and development. Environmental impacts are often inadequately assessed, and the assumption is usually that developments will go ahead in all areas, regardless of their ecological value.
In addition, many companies operate to different environmental and social standards depending upon the county in which they are working. In some developing countries, this means that even the most basic environmental requirements are not followed.
Another problem is that decommissioning of infrastructure is rarely considered. Many exploration wells will only have a limited life, sometimes as little as one to three months, but their construction can have a long-lasting impact. Environmental disruption would be reduced if planning for decommissioning was considered during the design process.