Dr Alison Brand

Dr Alison Brand
CEnv, CMarSci, CSci, FHEA

Research Fellow

Dr Alison Brand
Dr Alison Brand

Contact Details

The University of Aberdeen Institute of Biological and Environmental Sciences
School of Biological Sciences
University of Aberdeen
23 St Machar Drive
AB24 3UU



BSc (Hons) Mathematics & Statistics (Open) – 2011 [First]

Pg. Cert. Teaching & Learning in Higher Education (Sunderland) - 1998

Cert. Ed. (Higher Education) Teaching & Learning in Higher Education (Sunderland) - 1997

PhD Biological Oceanography (Southampon) - 1994

BSc (Hons) Environmental Science (UEA) – 1987 [2i]


University of Aberdeen (2016 – present). Research Fellow

Manta Environmental Ltd (2015 - present). Director/ Environmental Specialist.

RPS Energy (2014 – 2015). Senior Environmental Consultant.

Briggs Environmental Services (2013 – 2014). Senior Environmental Engineer.

BMT Cordah (2012 – 2013). Environmental Consultant/ Lead Environmental Modeller.

Open University (1997 – 2017). Associate Lecturer – modules included: biology, chemistry, ecology, environmental science, geology, mathematics, oceanography, physics & statistics.

Sunderland University (1996-1997) - Visiting Lecturer: Module leader and project supervisor - ecology)

The Queen’s University of Belfast (1994-1996) - Research Fellow - Responsible for artificial reef and lobster stock enhancement projects, and assisted in shellfish cultivation projects.


Research Interests

Developing Environmental Models

  • Soil processes - developed summary soil process models for the Scottish Government RESAS Theme 1. The models follow changes in soil properties in response to environmental drivers to allow the assessment of the relationships between soils and water quality, climate change and agriculture, and are designed for use by policymakers –Soil Management Assessment Tool (SoilMAT).
  • Underwater noise (UWN) - developed an UWN for piling and vessel activities offshore from first principles for an Environmental Consultancy, once I realised that the model that they were using was not fit for purpose. I have continued to build on and improve the model to enable it to be used for activities involving the firing of seismic and explosive charges. The model received a good response from JNCC/ DECC

Artificial Reefs

PhD thesis: Epibenthic Colonisation on an Artificial Reef. Southampton University (1994).

Current Research

Environmental Modelling

Underwater noise and the use of explosives in decommissioning (Knowledge Exchange Award)

Removal of offshore structures (e.g. platforms) may involve the use of explosives to sever structure-associated components: wellheads, conductors, piles etc.1, at varying depths below the seafloor (mudline). The safest and easiest cutting procedure is to place an explosive charge inside tubing at the desired depth and sever the casing explosively.

The acoustic impact of a buried charge explosion can vary significantly depending on the nature of the sediment and could range in principle from an essentially waterborne, unconfined detonation to a completely confined shot with no venting of explosion gases into the water column1,2,3. The presence of the metal structure being severed, which may act as containment and will absorb a portion of the explosive energy, further complicates the scenario compared to the detonation of a free charge in the sediment.

Generally it is safe to assume that ignoring the effects of the structure will yield a conservative “worst-case” assessment of the impact from the detonation, and there is evidence that the extremely high detonation forces in close proximity of the charge so far exceed the strength of the metal structure as to make its influence negligible1. However, there is a lack of published literature on whether this will type of explosive cutting can reduce the effects of the shock wave and associated sound generation within the water column. This is particularly important, as modern-day explosive charges can be two to three orders of magnitude less in weight than those used pre-2000.

The explosive cutting will generate impulsive noise and the impact from this will likely dominate any continuous noise sources, such as from vessels.

There are two main issues to be solved in order to make this work valuable to the industry:

  1. What are the effects of the use of explosives located in ‘tubing’ and buried below the mudline? In particular, how does this affect the underwater sound source level (SL)? The SL is primarily dependent on the maximum peak pressure, which is dependent on the weight of the charge.

  2. Does a short duration impulsive sound have a greater impact on receptors than a more prolonged continuous sound, such as that resulting from vessels remaining on site for longer in order to complete cutting activities using non-impulsive methods?

Currently, many underwater noise models are propriety and/or black box. Indeed the practice of underwater noise modelling is inconsistent amongst and between consultants, operators and regulators. It is timely for an open source model to be developed and evaluated. This model should be as simple and transparent as possible to enable easy use by stakeholders.


Abigail Davies (PhD Current). The Environmental Impact of Decommissioning: Quantifying Greenhouse Gas Emissions.

Beini Jiang (MSc 2018). Modelling carbon dynamics in the sediments of salt marshes.


  • JNCC
  • Marine Scotland Science
  • BEIS
  • SPEX group
  • Thornton Tomasetti

Research Grants

University of Aberdeen - Knowledge Exchange Award 2020


Teaching Responsibilities

ES5514 – Contributed a series of mini video lectures on data sources in Marine Offshore decommissioning EIA and advising re: Oil and Gas EIA at tutorials

BI4803/ BI5082 – Environmental modelling

BI4017 – Supervised/ assessed honours essays

SBS Cromarty Postgraduate Workshop - Contributed to 3 day residential PG skills workshop.

Further Info

Oil and Gas EIA Projects

Decommissioning Project Experience

Perenco: Underwater noise impact assessment for decommissioning activities at the Tyne platform involving explosives.

Perenco: Underwater noise impact assessment for decommissioning activities at the Guinnivere platform involving explosives.

BP Norge A/S: Prepared review of all decommissioning environmental reports and data for the Valhall Decommissioning Drill Cuttings Pile Data Study


ConocoPhillips: Prepared Energy & Emissions Technical Report for a decommissioning project, assisted with preparation for the Comparative Assessment and addressed regulator comments on underwater noise chapter of the ES.


Endeavour Energy UK Ltd: Reviewed Decommissioning DP & ES for Rene Rubee and authored underwater noise chapter.


Maersk Oil North Sea UK Ltd: Prepared underwater noise assessment, accidental events and waste management chapters for Leadon Decommissioning ES. Reviewed and edited the ES. Prepared decommissioning OPEP.


CNR International (UK) Ltd: Underwater Noise Impact Assessment for Ninian NP - Assessment of impact on marine mammals of underwater noise likely to arise from decommissioning of a platform on the UKCS. Collated data on marine mammal distribution in the installation area; completed impact assessment; and wrote technical report. Also, Energy & Emissions Assessment for Ninian NP - Collated data; completed impact assessment; and wrote technical report. Reviewed Drill Cuttings Pile Technical Report.


CNR International (UK) Ltd: Reviewed the Environmental Statement for the Murchison Decommissioning Project.



Underwater Noise Impact Assessment & Modelling Technical Reports


1. Decommissioning – see above


2. Seismic Activities

Statoil ASA – Outer Moray Firth Seismic Site Survey – Technical Report.

Statoil ASA - Mariner Seismic Site Survey – Technical Report.

Statoil ASA - Jock Scott Seismic Site Survey – EIA Justification.

Maersk Oil North Sea UK Ltd – Redcastle VSP Site Survey – EIA Justification.

Total E&P UK – Corfe RSVSP Survey – EIA Summary.

Total E&P UK – Franklin F1z VSP Survey – EIA Summary.

Maersk Oil North Sea UK Ltd – Drumtochty VSP Survey – EIA Justification.

Centrica Energy – Pegasus West RSVSP Survey - EIA Justification.

Total E&P UK – West Franklin D VSP Survey – EIA Summary.

The Parkmead Group – Skerryvore Site Survey - EIA Justification.

Nexen Petroleum UK Ltd – Blackhorse Site Survey - – EIA Justification.

BMT Cordah Ltd (for Suncor Energy UK Ltd) – Critique of Underwater Sound Impact Assessment – Kratos Site Survey.

Maersk Oil North Sea UK Ltd – Rothesay Site Survey – EIA Justification.



3. Piling and Other Construction Activities

ConocoPhillips - Underwater noise impact assessment for subsea piling installation activities at the Talbot field 

Speedwell - Underwater noise impact assessment for subsea piling installation activities at the Cotton field on the UKCS.

Bridge Petroleum - Underwater noise impact assessment forGalapagos Field Installation Operations

Antrim Resources (NI) - Underwater noise impact assessment for an ES in North Sea.

GDF Suez - Underwater noise assessment of piling operations for a PON15C for Cygnus.

Statoil ASA - Underwater noise impact assessment for the Bressay Development ES.

Statoil ASA - Underwater noise impact assessment for the Mariner Development ES.

Nexen Petroleum UK Ltd - GEAD Platform Jackets PON15D EIA Direction Underwater Noise Assessment.

BP Exploration Operating Company Ltd - Underwater noise impact assessment critique for Clair Ridge Platforms PON15D EIA Direction.

Xcite Energy Resources Ltd - Underwater noise impact assessment for the Bentley Field Development ES.



Oil Spill Modelling Technical Reports


Ithaca Energy/ ADTI: Prepared a workover OPEP for Athena, including oil spill modelling (OSIS).


Maersk Oil North Sea UK Ltd: Prepared a number of drilling OPEPs for wells in the Gryphon and Maclure fields, including oil spill modelling (OSIS).


ERM Ltd: OSIS oil spill modelling for IMA Field, Nigeria.


Endeavour Energy UK Ltd: OSCAR oil spill modelling for Rene Rubee OPEP.


Genesis Oil and Gas Consultants: OSIS oil spill modelling for Catcher.


Premier Oil: OSIS oil spill modelling for Solan OPEP.


XER Xcite Energy Resources: OSCAR oil spill modelling for Bentley ES.


Endeavour Energy UK Ltd: OSIS oil spill modelling for MacCulloch OPEP.


ConocoPhillips: OSIS oil spill modelling for SNS gas fields.



Other UKCS Experience


OMV: Environmental Advisor in DECC Stakeholder meetings. Project managed multilocation, multiwell exploration project, west of Shetland until it was put on hold by operator. Work completed included – ENVID meeting coordination and report, draft ES, OPEPs, DR-SATs and other permits. Mentored colleague re: use of OILMAP for oil spill modelling.


EnQuest PLC: Reviewed, authored and revised sections of the ESs for Scolty Crathes, Ythan and NE Dons.


Nexen Petroleum UK Ltd: Preparation/ QA of DR-SAT permits and OPEPs for GEAD wells.


Third Energy: Environmental Advisor in DECC Stakeholder meetings.


Client confidential: Preparation of PLANC, environmental sensitivities (pre-survey) documents for Loanen.


28th Round Environmental Licensing Support: Prepared and reviewed Appendix C supplements for various operators.


Centrica Energy: Contributed to a number of drilling OPEPs.


Talisman Sinopec Energy UK: Modelled and prepared technical report for Seagull Appraisal Well – Air Dispersion Modelling of Acid Gas Flare Emissions in support for a PON15B.


Antrim Resources (NI) Ltd: Participated in ENVID workshop, performed Risk Assessment and wrote ENVID report for new concept for Fyne Field.


XER Xcite Energy Resources: Participated in ENVID workshop and performed Risk Assessment for Bentley. Contributed to writing and review of Bentley ES.


Statoil (UK) Ltd: QA and author of various chapters of the Environmental Statement for Bressay. Undertook QA review and editing of Mariner drill cuttings impact assessment.


Shell UK Ltd - Analysis of Proteus model results using MatLab. Preparation of Figures and Appendices for Gravity Based Cell Study.


Antrim Resources (NI) Ltd: Review and editing of Environmental Statement for the Fyne Development.


Statoil (UK) Ltd: Review and editing of the Environmental Statement for Mariner.


Nexen Petroleum UK Ltd: Review and editing of the Environmental Statement for Solitaire.