New oil and gas resources are increasingly challenging to access and many are situated in remote areas or require the construction of pipelines over significant onshore lengths to bring products to market. Environmental aspects are usually abundant and are frequently related to socioeconomic and health challenges. For the purposes of this paper, references to environmental aspects will include socioeconomic and health aspects.
ExxonMobil is guided by its Environment Policy, expectations from the "Protect Tomorrow. Today." initiative, and management systems. This guidance is supported by processes and tools to ensure that the desired level of environmental performance is achieved when developing and constructing new upstream production/processing facilities. For major projects, significant environmental-related decisions need to be made during initial planning and concept selection. These early decisions can effectively reduce environmental impacts without significantly affecting a project's cost or schedule. Identification of potential environmental impacts early in the planning process can be essential to narrowing the scope of concept alternatives and developing appropriate environmental mitigation approaches. These early decisions help to optimize a project's environmental footprint by addressing energy needs, water usage, land use, air emissions, impacts on sensitive environments, and effects on local communities.
ExxonMobil Development Company ("EMDC") manages a challenging portfolio of opportunities. Totaling more than 100 projects, the Company's activities span the globe and cover many segments of the business from LNG to tight gas to oil sands. To consistently manage such a portfolio, EMDC has established an Environmental Management Process that covers the complete life cycle of a new development. This process includes a number of planning and decision-making tools and processes to address identified environmental challenges. Environmental risk assessments, alternatives analyses, and adherence to internal environmental standards provide guidance throughout the project planning and construction process. Once a concept has been selected and approved, an Environmental, Socioeconomic, and Health Impact Assessment ("ESHIA") is conducted. Endorsed environmental impact avoidance and/or mitigation measures are documented in subsequent project documents, most notably an Environmental Management Plan ("EMP"). Included in this plan are the roles and responsibilities of project-associated personnel, environmental-related regulatory requirements, and environmental performance expectations.
Upon completion of a project, operations personnel track environmental measurements to ensure that the project delivers the required level of environmental performance. At the end of a project's life, facilities are dismantled and reclaimed. A life cycle approach, from initial project concept to final decommissioning, ensures the proper stewardship of the environmental aspects of ExxonMobil's overall upstream operations.