Integrated environmental and social assessment is increasingly becoming part of national regulatory approval processes, to estimate and manage the impacts of oilfield developments upon the natural and human environment. Even at pre-project stages, the Environmental and Social Impact Assessment (ESIA) can form part of the company decision-making process for country entry. The ESIA should not be viewed however simply as a regulatory ‘tick-in-the-box’ but form part of a larger Environmental and Social Management Process. Effective integration of the ESIA findings, into the engineering design process can deliver benefits in impact mitigation and environmental management across all stages of the development.

The international community is demanding increasingly rigorous environmental and social performance of planned developments by international operators and reputation can be strongly influenced by the consistency and quality of the assessment process and the extent to which ESIA commitments are delivered. It is recognised by the International Association of Oil & Gas Producers (OGP) that sharing of experience through ‘lessons-learned’ would provide a means to achieve consistency in delivery of high quality environmental and social impact management processes.

The OGP ESIA in Projects Taskforce has been formed to develop industry guidance, which is applicable to development projects in any geographical area, thus facilitating the attainment of a consistently high standard by all operators, which is aligned with international expectations. The aim is to add both technical value and to facilitate interactions with stakeholders and third parties. Given the diversity of project specifics, company internal processes, local environmental sensitivities etc. The approach must offer a high degree of flexibility in its application. A ‘Toolbox’ based on agreed ‘good practice’ is being assembled that maps key environmental and social management activities with E&P project activities, defining deliverables and checklists at each stage. This is seen to offer greater potential than a more rigid process.

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