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Environmental impact studies

The following is the general structure for the elaboration of Impact Assessments by WALSH

Terms of Reference
Terms of Reference (TDRs for the Spanish name) are completed for all Environmental Impact Assessments and presented to the relevant Ecuadorian Ministry or Ministries for review and approval.

Methodology for Field Studies and Technical Analysis for Baseline Studies
WALSH will conduct a field study to determine the current environmental conditions in the area of study (Baseline) for all impact studies including Addendums and Expost evaluations. The duration of the field campaign will be established for each type of study, focusing on topics from previous studies that need to be obtained, expanded, or updated. We collect field data for the following environmental components:

Physical Component

Geology, Geomorphology, Hydrogeology and Hydrology. We will make quantitative field observations.

Soils. We will measure edaphological, environmental (TPH, heavy metals), and geotechnical information.

Water. We will take field measurements of water quality parameters and collect water samples according to Ecuadorian legal regulations for electrical activities and petroleum exploration and exploitation.

Biological Component
Botanical. The field study will identify types of vegetation and the presence of dominant, endemic and economically valuable species. This includes quantitative plots if the study location is in a mature forest within a protected area, and qualitative observation if the location is an intervened area.

Fauna. In mature forests and within protected areas, we will complete a quantitative and qualitative investigation of: avifauna (birds), mastofauna (mammals), herpetofauna (Reptiles and Amphibians), ichthyofauna (fish), and aquatic macroinvertebrates.

Socioeconomic Component
A field study will be conducted using surveys, interviews and informal workshops with the people within the study’s direct and indirect areas influence. Additionally, a political-administrative study will be conducted in local government offices.

Archaeology Component
An archaeological study will be conducted according to the requirements of the relevant Ecuadorian regulatory agency.

Identification of Potential Impacts
This includes the prediction or description of impacts in terms of space and time.

Impact Evaluation

This process is simplified and facilitated by the use of impact identification and evaluation matrices. The matrices evaluate environmental components (e.g. biological resources) according to project actions and the impacts the may cause. The classification (in terms of magnitude and duration of impact) is found in the body of the matrix.

The identification and measurement of the impacts will be followed by an evaluation of the significance and importance of the impact, be it quantitative or qualitative. Impacts that exceed a threshold of importance will be reviewed in more depth, including recommended mitigation measures. The Environmental Management Plan expands on these mitigation measures in more detail.

Analysis of Alternatives

Criteria used to evaluate project alternatives include:
  • Ecological Characteristics
  • Socioeconomic Characteristics
  • Environmental Characteristics
  • Technical criteria considered for the selection of well and pipeline construction alternatives.
Risk Evaluation and Analysis
The risk analysis and evaluation implies the identification of dangers associated with the proposed project and the evaluation of the nature and seriousness of these dangers, using all available information to identify options and make decisions for their reduction or elimination. It also includes the communication of these risks to decision makers and the general public. It is difficult to determine the exact risk, due to the subjective nature of some parameters that must be included in the evaluation.

The information collected during the baseline assessment, including, for example, the identification of environmentally susceptible areas, the technical details and design of the infrastructure of wells, and the experience accumulated during the development and production of existing wells, will provide the necessary data to adequately evaluate the project risks.

The risk evaluation proposes to determine the different types of risks associated with the project. The different physical, biological and social risks, particularly to the personnel involved in the development of future wells, roads and pipelines, will be identified in detail.
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