A Decade of
Explore Green™

For over a decade, Polarcus has been leading the industry and setting new standards for environmental consciousness. The company’s Explore Green™ agenda has provided a framework for continued work towards more sustainable exploration.

Monitoring, Measuring and Reporting

To fully understand the environmental impact of the company’s operations, it is imperative to have the procedures and tools in place to monitor and measure any form of emissions from the vessels.

Committing to the environment, Polarcus has a DNV GL certified emissions monitoring and measuring tool. The DNV GL statement certifies the methodology and accuracy of the company’s airborne vessel emission measurements. This verifies the ability to model the predicted exhaust emissions footprint for any project, and then perform post-project analysis, and reporting, against the actual emissions measured. After each project, an Emissions Certificate is produced and presented to clients.

To further increase awareness and promote the transparency of environmental impacts in the seismic industry, Polarcus are committed to disclosing its total airborne emissions on a regular basis. Every quarter, Polarcus reports its Greenhouse Gas (“GHG”) emissions, which are all significantly below the levels required by IMO regulations.

Leading our industry, responsibly

Managing Our Air Emissions

To minimize and reduce Polarcus’ environmental footprint, all vessels have been equipped with emissions reducing or eliminating technologies. This includes selective catalytic reduction systems which reduce harmful exhaust gas emissions.

Polarcus welcomes and supports the global challenge set by the International Maritime Organization (IMO) and the International Convention for the Prevention of Pollution from Ships to minimize airborne emissions from vessels.

With a DNV GL certified emissions monitoring and reporting tool, Polarcus stands at the forefront of measuring, monitoring and mitigating emissions to air. 

All of Polarcus’ emissions are fully disclosed as part of our quarterly earnings reporting. Find the reports here.

Heavy Fuel Oil vs. Marine Gas Oil

Classified as a carcinogenic by the UN, Heavy Fuel Oil (HFO) is renowned for its destructive impact on the environment. Since inception in 2008, Polarcus strategically avoided the use of HFO across all operations.

As an environmentally sustainable alternative, Polarcus uses low sulfur Marine Gas Oil (MGO) across the fleet and requires the same for all third party vessels supporting our operations.

Polarcus is still the only seismic operator committed to only using low sulfur MGO across all of its operations.

Managing Our Sea Emissions

Ballast water treatment system

Ballast water is required to ensure stability, trim and structural integrity of a ship. On a seismic vessel it is used to replace the weight of consumed fuel and to offset the weight of deployed streamers in order to maintain stability.

It is estimated that as many as 4,500 invasive species of plants and animals are transported per day in ships ballast around the world. The introduction of invasive marine species into new environments by ships ballast has been identified as one of the greatest threats to the world’s oceans and to global biodiversity.

The Polarcus fleet operates with the Alfa Laval PureBallast water management system which is 100% chemical free and eliminates all invasive species from the ballast water.

Bilge water treatment system

Bilge water is not exactly water, but rather a mixture of fresh water, sea water, oil, sludge, chemicals and other ship-board fluids. By design, it collects in the lowest compartment of a ship’s hull below the waterline where the two sides meet at the keel. This area is known as the bilge or bilge wells.

Current IMO regulation mandates that discharged bilge water shall contain no more than 15 ppm of oil residue.

The Polarcus fleet operates state-of-the-art bilge water treatment plants that clean the contaminated water to <5ppm, which is 300% below regulatory levels.

Managing Our Sound Emissions

The proximity of seismic operations to marine mammals and the effects that the source arrays might have on their well-being has long been studied. Whilst research into this subject is still ongoing, mammal disturbance mitigation will continue to be a high priority for Polarcus.

Polarcus is the ONLY seismic operator in the industry to have Passive Acoustic Monitoring (“PAM”) systems permanently installed on its vessels.

An exclusion zone of 500m radius, centered on the sources, covers an area in front of the vessel to the outer edges of the front end of the streamer spread.
Soft starts are used to warn marine mammals and sea turtles of pending seismic operations and to allow sufficient time for those animals to leave the immediate vicinity.

IMO 2020 Compliant

From 1 January 2020, the limit for sulfur in fuel oil used on board ships operating outside designated emission control areas will be reduced to 0.50% m/m (mass by mass). This will significantly reduce the amount of sulfur oxides emanating from ships and should have major health and environmental benefits for the world, particularly for populations living close to ports and coasts.

Polarcus welcomes this initiative from IMO and is proud to already comply and operate well below the new sulfur limits which will come in to play 1 January 2020. In fact, since inception Polarcus has committed to only using low sulfur marine gas oil for all operations including the support fleet. This ambitious commitment has resulted in an average sulfur content of 0.1% m/m.

Sulfur Content in Fuel

Environmental Alliances

Ghost Net Initiative

Abandoned fishing gear and marine debris has become a perilous threat to the wildlife and the condition of our oceans. The International Assocation of Geophysical Contractors (IAGC) launched a project to address this problem. The Ghost Net Initiative encourages offshore crews to remove any floating debris from the ocean and to dispose of it in an environmentally-conscious manner.

Polarcus crews continue to be an active participant of this initiative which often involves untangling wildlife from the abandoned nets and re-releasing them back to the ocean. Polarcus joins IAGC in calling upon offshore crews to become part of this movement.


As an industry pioneer in environmental responsibility, Polarcus participates in the DNV GL Environment, Energy, and Efficiency (“Triple-E™”) voluntary rating initiative. Triple-E™ is a mechanism for ships to be certified, based on quantifiable verification of their environmental performance. It also serves as a tool to help ship owners and operators benchmark and improve environmental performance.

It is comprised of four levels, from level 4 to level 1, with level 1 being the highest. The key elements of the Triple-E™ rating initiative are:

  • Energy efficient ship design
  • Environmental management system
  • Onboard energy efficiency management
  • Supported IMO initiatives for pollution control
  • Verifiable measuring, monitoring and reporting

Polarcus continues to be the only ship owner in the world to have achieved Level 1 Triple-E™.

Carbon Capture & Storage

As the world unites in the quest to fight climate change, many new studies make the case that capturing and storing COunderground is an effective method in reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

Polarcus provides invaluable insight for offshore CCS projects
through its advanced subsurface imaging.

Read more