Biodiversity management is a fast emerging challenging issue shaping the future of global exploration of oil and gas industry. The objective of the paper is to envision this "highly sensitive challenge" as an " appealing sustainable opportunity" and thereby balance the scales of ‘environment’ and ‘development’ in this sector. This paper is based on experiences of a global oil and gas major, Oil and Natural Gas Corporation Limited (ONGC), India in operating in such sensitive areas and an in-depth study of various International case studies, policies and publications.

The paper highlights the increasing need for factoring biodiversity management as a key corporate issue in the risk management of E&P business, gives a broad overview of experiences /constraints/critical issues of operation in such environments, relevant National legal framework and upcoming revisions, ONGC's Corporate HSE policies, best administrative and operational Management practices and attempts to chart a roadmap in dealing with the biodiversity issues faced by the oil and gas sector in the Indian context.

Though various global initiatives have called for "multi stakeholder partnerships", "Impact mitigation strategies" and "Integrated Environment & Social Impact Assessment process", this paper strongly advocates the following two strategies

  • The need for development of tailor made "performance rating" matrix model for Biodiversity Management for oil and gas sector to assess/measure the actual strategies adopted by a company in its attempt to reduce its operational footprints in sensitive environments. In the absence such rating systems, the Government, Industry and Conservation organizations shall continue to grapple over a series of bargains over accessibility, funding and conservation options in these areas

  • Formation of "Merger initiatives" in India as "Sustainable Development Partnerships" under aegis of Ministry with various stakeholders as members

These shall

  • Pave way for a consistent policy in dealing with bio diversity management in this sector

  • Ensure transparent workable relationships between industry/government/public to achieve sustainable equitable sharing of benefits.

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