The objective of the paper is to review the environmental risks facing Oil & Gas industry with the perspective of reducing pollution and environmental compliance costs by using innovative technological tools.

The environmental risks of industry operations are many but are commonly associated with; drilling fluids containing toxic materials (including oil/grease, heavy metals, & naturally occurring radioactive materials); produced waters posing threat of accidental release; potential emissions of hydrogen sulfide in natural gas deposits with its deadly effects on human health; and blowout of exploratory wells (statistically, in 0.5-1% cases) under pressurized contents of a geologic formation resulting in harmful emissions; and other accidents severely impacting environment and the project economics.

To focus on general environmental risks, statistics of environmental incidences and preventions related to well drilling, pipelines incidents and spills/leaks are described. Guidelines and some economically feasible options based on technological advances to minimize risks to environment & human health are also listed.

However, the paper essentially emphasizes the importance of technological advances to reduce industry's operational and environmental compliance costs during all phases (exploration, drilling, production, transportation, and storage) of oil and gas exploration and production (E&P). An an example, using modern technology, a substantial cost reduction from $8M in 1980 to about $0.1M today is realized for a 50 sq-mile exploration survey. The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) estimates that by 2020, the lower cost compliance technology programs could decrease cumulative industry environmental compliance costs by over $36 billion. The cost reduction coupled with better survey and monitoring data allows less intrusive methods with least impact on environment. Compliance cost reduction further provides opportunities for investing in continued research & development (R&D) towards achieving environmental protection goals. Therefore, special emphasis is to be given to applications of "smart technological solutions" in achieving essential goals of environmental protection, economic benefits and environmental sustainability.

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