With the increasing use of permanently installed seismic installations, many of the issues in time-lapse seismic caused by the lack of repeatability can be reduced. However, a number of parameters still influence the degree of reliability of 4D seismic data. In this paper, the specific impact of seawater velocity variations on time-lapse repeatability is investigated in a synthetic study. A zero-lag time-lapse seabed experiment with no change in the subsurface but with velocity changes in the water column is simulated. The velocity model in the water column is constant for the baseline survey while the model for the repeat survey is heterogeneous, designed from sea salinity and temperature measurements in the West of Shetlands. The difference section shows up to 80% of residual amplitude, which highlights the poor repeatability. A new dynamic correction which removes the effect of seawater velocity variations specifically for permanent installations is developed. When applied to the synthetic data, it reduces the difference residual amplitude to about 3%. This technique shows substantial improvement in repeatability beyond conventional time-lapse cross-equalization. © 2005 European Association of Geoscientists & Engineers.