Developing the seabed, resource extraction and renewable energy development at Sea

The compatibility of heritage protection and development projects

Nicolas Flemming, National Oceanography Centre, Southampton, UK


The global marine environment and seabed are increasingly exploited to gain materials, food, and services, and at the same time they are subject to increasing regulation, control, and research. Primarily, the extractive industries are hydrocarbons, aggregates, and their supporting industries and contractors. Many countries are creating integrated regulatory frameworks which extend through the coastal zone, the intertidal waters, and offshore into the EEZ so as to control licensing and enforcement. The planning and resolution of potential conflicts between numerous interests requires a greatly increased flow of accurate data for decision-making. For several decades the need to protect submerged cultural heritage, whether shipwrecks or submerged occupied sites, has been partially recognised, but enforcement has been very patchy. The extractive industries share the common factor of disturbing or extracting substantial parts of the seabed substrate. It is increasingly recognised that the grant of licenses should be conditional upon pre-disturbance surveys, the avoidance of highly prospective archaeological targets or sectors, and a graduated reporting and monitoring system so that accidental finds are reported immediately to the cultural heritage authorities. While shipwrecks and historic buildings are usually detectable acoustically by their surface expression on the seabed, submerged prehistoric sites are often not detected in advance, and therefore academic collaboration with industry is essential.

The need for marine data - European Marine Observation and Marine Spatial Planning

Iain Shepherd, DG for Maritime Affairs and Fisheries of the European Commision



In planning activities on the sea – cabling, dredging, fish farming, gravel extracting, petroleum exploring, pipeline laying, renewable energy platform building – we need to know what lies underneath the waves. And we need this information quickly if the planning or licensing process is not to take too long and if we are to avoid irreversible harm to submerged landscape features or artefacts buried in the sediment. Consortia working under the European Union's "marine knowledge 2020" initiative have contributed to this objective by creating gateways to observations held by hundreds of institutions. The data, metadata and data products are delivered to uniform standards and tagged with quality labels.
The first phase of the project has been successful in delivering data products covering a selected number of European sea-basins. Challenges included persuading data holders to allow public access to low resolution bathymetry, finding a common classification for sediment data, determining distribution of chemical pollution from sparse measurements and estimating species abundance and diversity from surveys that had used different sampling methods. In 2012, work will begin on delivering complete coverage of European waters of these parameters.

Energy Development on the U.S. Outer Continental Shelf: challenges in locating, studying, and protecting Underwater Cultural Heritage

Brian Jordan, Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, USA



The Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) is charged with the environmentally responsible and safe development of energy and mineral resources on the Outer Continental Shelf (OCS) of the United States. To assist in fulfilling this mandate, BOEM’s Environmental Studies Program funds research and synthesizes available environmental, social and economic science information to support decision-making related to development of offshore energy and mineral resources. Studies focused on underwater cultural heritage are an essential part of BOEM’s on-going research. BOEM has funded several studies in recent years to assist the bureau in characterizing where cultural and archaeological resources are located on the OCS and how they might be affected by offshore oil and gas, wind energy, and mineral development. The results from these peer-reviewed studies, in conjunction with required archaeological assessments for specific development projects, provide critical information necessary to inform decision-making processes for the siting of energy development projects, as well as developing the appropriate mitigation and compliance to ensure that significant cultural and archaeological resources remained unharmed.

The consideration of archaeological sites in oil and gas drilling operations

Amanda Evans, Tesla Offshore / SHA, USA

(Text | Presentation

In the United States, Gulf of Mexico oil and gas industry operators are required by the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management to provide archaeological assessments of potential resources in their project area as a condition of the permit application process. Permit approval may depend on the investigation, mitigation, or avoidance of a submerged archaeological resource. All reasonable types of submerged cultural resources must be addressed in the assessment, and in shallow waters includes both historic shipwrecks and late Pleistocene/early Holocene occupation areas. All areas available for lease by oil and gas operators require an archaeological assessment, including the ever-increasing depths of deepwater exploration. The area of impact, as defined in the permit approval process, includes any ground disturbing activity. During construction activities this may include a drilling site for well installation, pipeline trench, or anchor spread. Ancillary impacts may include drilling splay, or temporary ground installations such as mud mats or acoustic positioning beacons. This presentation will introduce common methods used in assessing the potential presence of submerged archaeological resources, as well as oil and gas industry activities that have the potential to impact or damage submerged cultural resources.

The Nord Stream Baltic pipeline and underwater cultural heritage

Andreas Olsson, Swedish National Maritime Museums, Sweden


A decade ago, few monuments were known in Swedish Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) of the Baltic Sea. Since then, we have experienced a trend towards more activity in this zone. Development projects are more common and technical development has made it possible for anybody to search for, and to dive on, deeply located shipwrecks. The result is an increasing number of very well preserved shipwrecks in the EEZ.
However, monuments in the Swedish EEZ don’t have the same strong legislative protection as monuments in territorial waters.
There is a general public support, also among policy makers, for a stronger protection of the cultural heritage of the Swedish EEZ, especially since many shipwrecks has proven stunningly well preserved and scientifically valuable. This, in combination with the unclear legal scope of heritage protection within the EEZ, and activities that may threaten the cultural heritage has resulted in management practices that are new and different to practices in the Swedish territorial waters.
This paper aims to discuss the development of cultural heritage management in the Swedish EEZ through the example of the Nord Stream gas pipe.

Offshore renewable energy development - wind farms in the North Sea

Martijn Mandeers, Dutch Cultural Heritage Agency, Netherlands


Antony Firth, Wessex Archaeology, UK


Many countries are looking at marine renewables as a means of reducing their reliance on fossil fuels for large-scale energy generation. Technologies intended to harness waves and tidal currents are being developed, but the main focus of effort in the short to medium term is on the installation of very large wind turbines offshore, often in extensive ‘parks’ or ‘farms’.
Wind farms present particular challenges to underwater cultural heritage. The turbines themselves require foundations that may be relatively extensive or penetrate deep below the seabed. Large amounts of cabling are required between the turbines and sub-stations out at sea. Very long export cables have to be installed between the farms and their landfalls. Excavation at the landfall and onshore where connections are made to national power transmission networks can threaten coastal and on-land cultural heritage. The turbines may have visual impacts on coastal monuments, and on appreciation of historic landscapes and seascapes. There can also be diverse indirect and secondary impacts on cultural heritage from the planning and construction of such massive engineering works.
This presentation will outline the plans and political processes involved in proposed development of offshore wind farms in the Dutch sector of the North Sea, and present the experiences of almost a decade of close work between archaeologists and wind farm developers in the UK sector.

The significance and contribution of marine aggregates

Andrew Bellamy, British Marine aggregate Producers Association (BMAPA), UK


Marine aggregates off southern Britain commonly originated in fluvial environments during phases of lower sea level in the Quaternary Period. Aggregate extraction from such fluvial terrace and channel infill deposits has revealed evidence for low sea levels, including faunal remains, peat deposits and, most significantly, flint hand axes. In addition, more recent maritime and aviation remains are occasionally recovered in aggregate cargoes, including timbers, cannon balls and wartime aircraft parts. Artefacts found either in dredged cargoes or at the receiving wharf or other landing point are recorded through a reporting protocol agreed between BMAPA and English Heritage (EH). This involves the participation of dredger crews, wharf and processing plant staff, industry management, archaeological specialists and officials in English Heritage. The protocol, underpinned by a partnership between BMAPA and EH, a joint Guidance Note and a high standard of archaeological investigation and feedback on finds, has been and continues to be a great success.