2.7 – Sensitivity of biodiversity to petroleum development

The sensitivity of biodiversity to petroleum developments depend on the species type and the ability of the species to adopt to changes.

Mammals are sensitive to vibrations from seismic survey, movement of heavy equipments and the drilling activity. The noise resulting from petroleum activities interfere with breeding patterns of wildlife. The clearing of vegetation during various infrastructure developments reduce the habitats for wildlife, destroys the homes of some animals and blocks the corridors for animals. The oil spills and pollution from other chemicals used during petroleum developments contaminate water sources for wildlife and affects the water dwelling animals including birds and fish species. As already mentioned, this atlas considered only the large animals. There are many small sized wildlife species that have not been surveyed, which are very sensitive to these developments.


Plants are affected through clearing of the development site, oil spills and pollution. For plant species, the issues to consider are how fast an area would recover from disturbance if cleared and which vegetation types are likely to be most affected if an oil spill occurred. Recovery of an area involves two phases. The first phase is the development of re-growth so as to control erosion and water runoff. The second phase is the regeneration of the originally existing species. There are areas where it may take a much longer period for such species to come up and later on to grow to the initially existing sizes and species richness levels. There are also species which have a limited distribution range. For species that take very long to recover and those that have a limited distribution range, the areas where they occur will need to be avoided or used with extreme care.

Whereas maps in this chapter indicate sights that have high species diversity, they do not show the specific species that occur in such areas. These maps are pointers to where caution needs to be exercised when carrying out petroleum development activities. Acquisition of detailed species information and the conditions in which the species occur will, therefore, be required for the specific area selected for a petroleum development activity.