Oil and Gas Drilling

The greatest potential threat to cold-water coral reefs from oil and gas drilling would be the smothering effect of any drill cuttings released near the reefs. However, there is almost no information on how cold-water corals respond to being exposed to sediment and people rely on drawing parallels from work carried out on tropical coral species.

In many parts of the world, individual oil companies and the countries that license oil exploration follow tightly controlled procedures to limit environmental impact. Generally speaking, seabed impacts are confined to a small area. However, if drilling is not well regulated and engineering works or discharges take place too close to cold-water coral reefs, then these activities could smother, stress or physically damage the corals and their inhabitants.

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