The paper covers the drivers behind the recent changes in approach to waste disposal management in the E&P Industry: legislation, environmental pressures and costs. Management issues are discussed (policy, principles and strategies), together with a review of the external factors (infra-structure, support industries and local regulations) which combine to affect how waste is handled. The paper examines case studies of developing waste management for both onshore and offshore sites in the E&P operating environment covering strategy, auditing, reporting requirements, contractor responsibilities and personnel training.


Oil and Gas Industry waste, as classified in the E&P Forum's E&P Waste Management Guidelines (Ref 1), covers a multitude of areas, ranging from liquid effluents, atmospheric emissions, radioactive substances, drilling cuttings and the general skips of 'rubbish'. It is not the intention of this paper to re-state those waste streams and methods of disposal. This paper sets out to demonstrate how Total Oil Marine (TOM) developed a method for managing the identification, handling and disposing of its general, solid waste in an evolving climate of environmental, legislative and financial pressures. Total Oil Marine is the UK North Sea exploration and production subsidiary of TOTAL, the worldwide energy group. The current arrangements for waste handling within TOM are described in Figure 1 and the case studies are attached as Appendices.


Until the early 1990s Waste Management was not perceived as a single environmental issue within the E&P Industry. Process waste streams (production water, drill cuttings and flares etc) were regulated separately and the general waste/superfluous materials which had to be dealt with were dispatched via the easiest legal and reputable route. The direct costs of disposal were spread across the various business units within companies and indirect costs borne as general overheads. With legislative changes, increasing costs and a growing awareness of the environmental pressure on disposal options, the climate within the waste industry has now changed radically both in the UK and world-wide and has resulted in a review of practices affecting almost every corner of activity.

In the UK, legislation has been in place for some time covering the procedures for dealing with special/hazardous waste. With the introduction of the Environmental Protection Act in 1990, a new offence appeared on the statute books regarding the keeping, treating and handling of all 'controlled' waste. In effect this meant that a waste producer had to ensure that adequate care was given to avoid committing an offence, or presenting his waste for disposal in such a way that no other party could be liable to commit an offence. Before consigning any controlled waste to (only) an authorised party, a producer was required to state what was being consigned, how it was contained, the quantities, where it was going and to whom it was being given. Getting a system for providing the answers to such basic questions laid the framework for a major re-think of waste management strategy for the Company.

The Company's operational activities at the time included:

Alwyn North, an oil and gas field situated some 250 miles north east of Aberdeen, comprising construction modifications, production, well operations and development drilling, and its satellite fields:

Dunbar Field (oil and gas), comprising project construction and subsequently Tender Assisted Drilling and Production; Ellon and Grant Fields - subsea gas developments. With its satellite fields, Alwyn North produces approximately 5% of UK oil and gas requirements.

St Fergus Gas Terminal - onshore reception facility receives gas from many North Sea fields.

Exploration seismic surveys and drilling.

Logistic support includes marine, air and road transport. a quayside facility and a Warehouse.

Strategy Development

The overall objectives of having a waste management strategy lie in safe, cost-effective management of waste.

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