Oil production from land-based license blocks remains a major focus for operators, and managing environmental liability and taking care of the wider environment associated with such assets is increasingly important. Whether at the entry stage, with acquisition decisions to make, or at the operational and exit stages of a project lifecycle, an operator must have the basic information to assess and manage the financial liabilities which may be posed by impacts on soil, surface water and groundwater.

Defining the environmental baseline condition of the land within concession areas at both the start and completion of exploitation and production is essential to:

  • Being able to define any incremental pollution caused by the operation of the field over its lifetime;

  • Articulate and manage the environmental liability exposure such impacts represents to operators; and

  • Aid operators in restoring the land to an acceptable condition in compliance with their permitting and operational licenses and in accordance with sustainable principles to facilitate an orderly exit from the license block.

Comprising anything from exploration sites, storage pits, lay-down areas, well-heads, pipelines, flow stations, manifolds, valves, processing plants and waste disposal areas, the assets in question can be hugely variable but each can pose potential environmental risks in their own right. Set this against a background of environmentally diverse land patterns and usages, and the challenge of characterizing any pollution which occurs can be substantial. In addition, it is important to decide on what level of mitigation might ultimately be appropriate – just cleaning up land to remove all incremental impacts may be unsustainable, and a more cost-effective approach would better focus on those aspects of pollution which pose an actual risk of causing harm to human health or the environment, rather than adopting a blanket approach, irrespective of risk.

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