Results and lessons learned from a 3-year intensive coral communities monitoring during the construction of a LNG plant in Yemen

Claude Henri Chaîneau, Robert Hirst, Ibrahim Al-Thary, Eric Dutrieux, Sébastien Thorin, Annalisa Caragnano, Francesca Benzoni, Michel Pichon

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contribution

1 Scopus citations


The Yemen LNG plant construction started in September 2005 in Balhaf in the Gulf of Aden and lasted over 4 years. The 1 km2 plant, within a 10 km2 fenced site, lies along 7 km of coastline. This paper describes the approach of Yemen LNG along with its main shareholder Total E&P, concerning the protection of the coral biodiversity during marine construction activities in a sensitive environment. This approach was developed according to three stages: establishing biodiversity, monitoring coral communities and protecting the reef ecosystem with mitigation and compensation means. Knowledge of the coral biodiversity was an indispensable preliminary stage to evaluate the sensitivity of the site. The Environmental Baseline Studies have highlighted the richness of the marine ecosystem. The plant is bordered by a dense, diversified coral community forming a narrow reef extending from the shore to a depth of 15 metres. Almost 85 coral species occur in the reefs, colonizing about 85% of the substrate. The largest coral colonies are approximately 400 years old. Therefore, these corals are a valuable and delicate resource. Monitoring composition and diversity of corals communities is considered an integral part of biodiversity conservation. The monitoring plan allowed to measure several parametres: some of which were related to the natural environment, others measured the effects of the works on water quality and finally, most observations included a direct measurement of coral community health. Protecting the reef ecosystem by implementing mitigation and compensation measures is aimed at keeping reef biodiversity at its highest level by preventing and/or reducing the negative impacts on the ecosystem. Initially, part of the marine construction work encroached on existing coral outcrops. A planned, but not yet implemented, Marine Protected Area nearby also increased the pressure on the construction teams who had to fulfill the Social and Environmental Impact Assessment Study requirements as well as World Bank and IFC standards. It is recognized that some limited physical damage to corals occurred despite the implementation of these mitigation measures. Lessons learned from the monitoring will be used to provide feedback to the industry in general. This offers a positive way forward when constructing installations in sensitive coastal marine environments. Copyright 2010, Society of Petroleum Engineers.
Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationSociety of Petroleum Engineers - SPE International Conference on Health, Safety and Environment in Oil and Gas Exploration and Production 2010
Number of pages25
StatePublished - Jul 7 2010
Externally publishedYes


Dive into the research topics of 'Results and lessons learned from a 3-year intensive coral communities monitoring during the construction of a LNG plant in Yemen'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this