The Chevron International Exploration & Production's (CIEP's) integrated Environmental, Social, and Health Impact Assessment (ESHIA) process is described together with the results of its implementation. The value added by an integrated approach to environmental, social, and health impact assessments is discussed. The key features of the process are the requirement for projects to be screened early in project development, stakeholder engagement to be conducted, and management plans to be developed for the construction and operations phases. The details of the process and its governance are addressed.
ESHIA requires multi-disciplinary teams to evaluate environmental, social, and health impacts and risks. The clear expectations on social impact assessment and stakeholder engagement have generated high value cooperation between HES and public affairs specialists. The early identification of potential impacts has greatly improved the quality of project decision-making.
ESHIA is critical to oil and gas companies who wish to access new opportunities, obtain external financing, acquire licenses to operate, deliver sustainable development, and enhance company reputation. In many areas of the world, there is little regulatory or cultural distinction between environmental, social, and health impacts. Stakeholder engagement is an increasingly important project requirement with increased expectations from governments and lending institutions. The integration of these factors into project decision-making is a key success factor to the delivery of long term project value.
Environmental impact assessments (EIAs) for upstream oil and gas projects have a history that extends for at least thirty years. Initially, they were only required in a handful of highly regulated environments. Now it is a rarity to find a major oil and gas project anywhere in the world that is not required, either by legislation or corporate standards, to undertake an EIA. They are now almost universally accepted not only as a part of doing business, but as an integral part of doing business the right way. EIA practices including methodologies, interpretation of data, and determination of levels of significance are well developed. Mitigation measures are standardized in many circumstances and comparisons across companies, industries, and countries are relatively easy.
Health impact assessments (HIAs) in some ways have a much longer history, although for much of that history they were not considered impact assessments per se. Protection of worker and community health has long been codified in legislation, occupational health standards, noise regulations, etc., but often limited to small number of relatively easily measurable parameters. Health impact assessments have typically followed the route of using dispersion or other modeling techniques to demonstrate compliance with the legislation and corporate standards. Over recent years health impact assessments have seen a transformation with much more focus on the potential impacts of projects on overall community health and welfare, with a commensurate emphasis on disease epidemiology and prevention. This transformation has increased the overlap and interdependencies between EIA and HIA methodologies. It has also created the need for a different kind of health professional. The skill sets required of them cross the boundaries of the traditional occupational health experts, toxicology experts, and medical physicians.