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Santos has won the Australian Petroleum Production and Exploration Association’s Environment Award for research on the interaction between whales and seismic activity.

The award recognises the partnership between Santos and Deakin University which has provided a valuable insight into blue whale movements off south-eastern Australia and presented new research on how exploration and whales can live together.

Santos has worked closely with regulatory authorities and researchers since 2002 to better understand the distribution and behaviour of whales during seismic surveys in the Otway and Duntroon Basins. Aerial surveillance, towed hydrophone cables and ocean bottom sound recorders were used to track the whales.

In 2006, the company also contributed significant funds towards the purchase by Deakin University of a specialist vessel to observe whale behaviour.

When presenting the award to Santos, Chris Gunner (Shell Development Australia Chief Operating Officer) commended Santos’ contribution to industry knowledge of seismic and underwater sound, as well as marine animals and how petroleum exploration and production might affect them.

‘This information has been shared willingly and freely with the rest of the industry in Australia and has been taken around the world,’ he said.

‘Santos has made a great contribution to the decision-making ability of government and the ongoing revisions to the seismic exploration guidelines. These efforts have resulted in a better understanding of whales and their interactions with the industry, all to the benefit of the industry, the whales and the community as a whole.’

The other environment award finalist was ConocoPhillips, which was recognised for its work in developing Darwin LNG, in which Santos has a 10.6% interest.

‘The engineering and environmental innovations developed for the Darwin LNG plant has resulted in a 20% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions, little or no disturbance to ecosystems, and ongoing protection and monitoring of local and regional ecosystems,’ Chris Gunner said.