Environmental issues are receiving increasing attention in countries throughout the world, resulting from growing public and government concerns and pressures to address them. In turn, greater attention is being focused on environmental aspects of oil and gas exploration and production (E&P) activities in many countries.

Major international oil companies are being asked to demonstrate to the public and governments in most countries where they operate that the companies are committed to environmental protection. Many have therefore adopted corporate environmental policies that articulate that commitment. Industry trade associations have similarly adopted mission statements or guiding principles for the industry as a whole.

However, environmental commitment must be demonstrated in the field through actual performance. Environmental policies alone usually cannot assure such performance. Companies must establish their own environmental standards to guide their operations and defend them to the public and government, especially in countries with few or no environmental laws and regulations.

For these reasons, many companies and industry trade associations have developed or are developing internal operating requirements or guidelines for their units or members. Such requirements and guidelines can bring significant benefits to individual companies and to industry as a whole.

Companies have used varying approaches in developing internal operating requirements. Some appear to be more effective than others. However, any approach must deal with certain significant issues. Primary is the inevitable balance that must be achieved between the need for company-wide or industry-wide consistency and specificity in standards and the need for flexibility to address local and project- specific conditions.

Whatever approach is used, the requirements must be part of a more comprehensive environmental management program. Such a program is the only way to assure that' the standards the company adopts will be effectively implemented in the field.

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