Driven by the imperative to replace reserves, buoyant demand and societal need for energy security, the upstream oil and gas industry is investing heavily in exploration – much of this is in Sub-Saharan Africa. Waste management infrastructure in these frontier geographies can be variable. It is often difficult to find waste management facilities that meet companies' corporate environmental requirements and/or those of any funding agencies that might be involved. This paper discusses the challenges faced by the industry and successful approaches that can be adopted for managing exploration and production wastes in Sub-Saharan Africa.
Options discussed include: pre-treatment of waste; developing dedicated in-house waste treatment facilities or facilities that are shared with other international oil companies (IOCs); working with existing waste contractors to help raise standards to an acceptable level; and export of waste.
The most important point is to plan for how each of the different wastes will be managed. This requires an understanding of the wastes that are expected to be generated by the different stages of a project, proper consideration of how wastes can be minimised and/or made less harmful and a careful assessment of existing and potential capabilities of local waste management facilities. Undertaking a comprehensive assessment of the different options for managing each waste stream will allow a waste management plan to be developed that meets corporate and international finance environmental health and safety (EHS) standards, which significantly reduces potential future liabilities and which enhances local and international reputation.