“Awareness of the importance of environmental issues has become more and more central to the thinking of the oil industry and regulators in the last decades. Integration of development and environment, approached in partnership between stakeholders, was the theme of the UNCED Conference in Rio in 1992. Principle 4 of the Rio Declaration captures this challenge: “In order to achieve sustainable development, environmental protection shall constitute an integral part of the development process and cannot be considered in isolation from it”.
These guidelines on environmental management in oil and gas exploration and production are based on the collective experience gained by UNEP and the oil industry. They should help meet the challenge of fully integrating protection of the environment in the regulatory and business processes that control the exploration and production of oil and gas. They can serve as a basis for preparing or improving regulations, policies and programmes to minimize the impact on the environment of these activities.
The document provides an overview of the environmental issues and the technical and management approaches to achieving high environmental performance in the activities necessary for oil and gas exploration and production in the world. Management systems and practices, technologies and procedures are described that prevent and minimize impact. The continued sharing of best practices, and the application of comprehensive management systems by oil companies and their contractors and suppliers are essential.
The role of government in setting and enforcing regulations is also key to minimizing the potential environmental impact. The trend towards performance-based regulations, rather the traditional command and control approach, has the potential to stimulate more innovative and effective environmental management in all areas of the world.
Consultation with local communities and other legitimate stakeholders is also an essential element of good environmental management. Both UNEP and E&P Forum would appreciate feedback from industry and regulatory agencies on the use they have made of this document, and any other guidelines or assistance needed, as input to our programmes to further enhance the environmental performance of the oil industry.”