The management and protection of water resources is critical for sustainable development. To effectively manage the challenges and opportunities related to water resources, oil and gas operators should look beyond their fenceline and beyond legal compliance. Companies are increasingly likely to encounter threats to their project and operations where they have not taken account of, and responsibility for, their role as a user of a shared, and in some cases limited, resource. The failure to respond to this challenge may have potentially long-lasting implications for both the sustainability of an operation and the human health and human rights of those within the river catchment.

An overview of current and future water resources challenges facing the conventional and unconventional oil and gas sector in sub-Saharan Africa is presented drawing on case studies and supporting evidence. As well as identifying some of the challenges, this paper will propose some potential solutions and benefits of an integrated approach for assessing and managing water resources risks and impacts. Adopting an integrated approach can help businesses prepare for water-related physical, reputational and investment risks and decisions that if not a priority now, are likely to become so in the future.

Some of the management activities and tools for achieving this will be presented.

This paper will conclude that effective management of water resources requires an integrated approach that takes into account the wider social dimensions of an operational setting. It will also conclude that through the deployment of a range of tools there is potential to enhance the understanding, mitigation and management of operational impacts on the social dimensions of water as a shared resource between business and the wider community.

You can access this article if you purchase or spend a download.