The Ministry of Economic Development and Petroleum hereby informs the public that pursuant to the Petroleum Act the Government of Belize, through the Ministry of Economic Development and Petroleum and the Geology and Petroleum Department, will be conducting a multibeam and sea seep survey in the marine territory of Belize east of the barrier reef and in the Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ), excluding all marine protected areas as well as all areas banned from petroleum exploration which includes the barrier reef, the atolls and all World Heritage Sites with a 1 kilometer buffer around all these areas. The survey will be done in deep water only and away from any major tourist activity, fishing areas or spawning sites.

This survey is part of a larger regional geophysical survey currently being done by the United States Government and the Mexican Government in the US Gulf of Mexico, the Mexican Gulf of Mexico and east of the Yucatan Peninsula to gather new regional data to advance the knowledge of the geology and hydrocarbon systems of these geological provinces. Belize was invited to participate in this regional program and take advantage of the opportunity to acquire invaluable geological data over the deep waters of Belize where there is currently no data. Belize has taken the decision to participate in this regional program with the US and Mexico.

A multibeam survey is the typical survey done by countries to obtain essential baseline bathymetric data or water depth maps and seafloor maps of the world’s oceans and harbors for navigation and scientific information. This type of survey produces accurate and high resolution bathymetric maps. It also provides additional benefits such as the mapping of geological features on the sea floor including sea mounds formed on the sea bottom from hydrocarbon seepage. If sea mounds are identified, these can be sampled through soft sediment coring and analyzed to confirm the presence of hydrocarbon systems.

Multibeam surveys are done using an echo sounder similar to a fish-finder that maps the topography or bottom of the sea floor and are non-invasive and have little to no environmental effects. Multibeam surveys are used by Navies such as the US Navy, government administrative agencies such as the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Association (NOAA), Universities such as the University of Texas, University of Oregon and the National University of Mexico (UNAM) and marine academic organizations such as Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution and Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute (MBARI). Multibeam surveys for purposes of evaluating hydrocarbon systems have been conducted worldwide in marine preserves, parks, and areas sensitive to marine life such as the Raja Ampat National Park and Marine Reserve in Indonesia.

The survey is expected to commence early October 2016 and is expected to take one month to complete. All data acquired will be the property of the Government of Belize.

(They are looking for oil seeps which might indicate oil deposits below.)

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Multi Beam and Sea Seep Survey Diagram