Discharges to sea and emissions to the air by the UK’s oil and gas industry have been on an overall downward trend over the last 15 years, according to industry body Oil & Gas UK’s Environment Report 2016.
Carbon dioxide emissions from UK offshore oil and gas production contributed just over 3 percent of total UK carbon emissions in 2015 and the report outlined that emissions per unit of production have fallen since 2013. The average oil in water concentration in produced water last year was also less than half of the recommended limit set by the OSPAR Commission, according to Oil & Gas UK’s study.
Last year saw the smallest mass of accidental oil released to the marine environment on record and emissions and discharges rose proportionally less in 2015 than the upturn in oil and gas production, which demonstrated the industry’s commitment to environmental management, the report said.
“The Environment Report comes at a challenging time for the UK oil and gas which is working extremely hard to navigate through the downturn, while maintaining environment and safety standards,” Mick Borwell, health, safety and environment policy director with Oil & Gas UK, said.
“Despite the UK Continental Shelf being a mature basin with technically challenging production, the overall trend for the last 15 years is downwards for discharges, emissions and accidental releases. Put simply, we are using the same amount of chemicals and emitting less CO2 in the production of more oil and gas,” he added.
“Industry is committed to minimizing the effect on the natural environment and all operators have an environmental management system which is designed to minimize environmental effect,” Borwell continued.
Standardization in Environmental Management
Oil & Gas UK’s Environmental Operators Technical Group has been working on the standardization and simplification of approaches in several areas of environmental management, such as seabed survey strategies, chemical permits and environmental critical element definitions, the report highlighted.
Standardization in these areas would improve efficiency in the process of oil and gas production on the UK Continental Shelf, which the report states would work to improve the sector’s competitiveness.
The management of the UK’s offshore environment is regulated by domestic and EU regulations. It’s not yet clear how the UK’s decision to leave the EU will influence frameworks for managing the UK’s offshore region.
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