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Marine Biodiversity Preservation

The marine ecosystems in the vicinity of Balhaf Plant include coral reefs and a diverse fish population. The main potential impacts on intertidal and marine ecosystems during construction activities included a potential increase in seawater turbidity due to the movement of earth during land preparation activities. Environmental studies of the Balhaf area were performed since 1997 and have concluded that the fish and coral communities were particularly rich and diversified in the vicinity of Balhaf. 

The company has therefore undertaken rigorous actions to maintain the marine biodiversity and to ensure the protection of the corals off the shores of Balhaf during construction and also while in operation.

The Use of Silt Curtains

A protective measure which Yemen LNG implemented during the marine construction works in Balhaf was ‘silt curtains’. These are a geotextile technology, which provides a barrier “filter” between marine construction works and the corals. The silt curtains worked by blocking sediments suspended in the water during construction from reaching the rich coral populations and marine life in the vicinity of the plant.

The silt curtains have proven to be extremely successful protective measures, which greatly reduced the risk of sedimentation on the corals.

Monitoring Process

In order to validate the Yemen LNG marine biodiversity protection strategy, the company carries out continuous professional monitoring using both national and international bodies, to check on the conditions of corals and sea water in general in order to advise the project on necessary steps to be taken should there be any concern. This approach is then overseen by the Yemeni Authorities. The monitoring consists of:

  • Daily site monitoring by marine contractors (water quality, qualitative coral conditions, etc).
  • Regular water quality sampling by Hadrahmout University of Science & Technology (HUST).
  • In depth bi-monthly missions by CREOCEAN to check coral health and diversity against internationally accepted statistical criteria.
  • Regular monitoring missions by the Authorities Monitoring Team which comprises Environment Protection Authority (EPA), the Ministry of Oil and Minerals (MOM) and the Maritime Affairs Authority (MAA).

Corals Protection & Transplantation – A World Record

By far, the biggest environmental challenge was the construction activities off the shores of Balhaf. The coastal region of Balhaf is rich in corals; harbouring 79 different species, some of which are more than four centuries old. To mitigate impact to these coral communities, Yemen LNG re-designed its Material Offloading Facility and built its intake and outfall pipes as well as the loading jetty in areas with the least possible damage to the corals.

Despite the effectiveness of these measures, certain aspects of construction would still cause direct loss of corals, unless a solution could be found. Yemen LNG looked at a number of possible solutions, but the one which offered the greatest potential benefit, but accompanied by a high level of ecological risk, was coral transplantation (otherwise known as coral resettlement). This technique, in which individual coral colonies are carefully removed from their natural habitat on the seabed, and relocated to a new habitat, has been tried on a limited scale and with mixed success around the World, but Yemen LNG was to take this technique to a scale and complexity never before attempted.

Yemen LNG hired international marine biologists with a proven track record in coral transplantation who performed a world-class transplantation project where more than fifteen hundred colonies were moved to safer locations and into suitable adjacent areas creating new natural habitats for the benefit of the local fish population. 

The transplantation programme has been spectacularly successful with a coral survival rate of over 80 percent. The largest coral moved weighed 4 tonnes, a world record for moving a living coral.

Biodiversity Action Plan

The Biodiversity Action Plan (BAP) describes the measures taken already by Yemen LNG, and those planned to be taken, to preserve biodiversity and the environment in and around Yemen LNG’s operations. This plan has been designed to be a benchmark in setting challenging world-class standards for the management of environmental impacts. It is a demonstration of the importance, which Yemen LNG and its Shareholders attach to the conservation of biodiversity, and of the wide ranging actions which we are taking to achieve our objectives in this respect.

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