The pressures on all businesses to manage their environmental performance responsibly continue to grow. Whilst the pursuit of environmental excellence is frequently costly (in financial and resource terms), it is nevertheless fundamental to the continued success of many companies. This is particularly true for companies operating in the primary sector - heightened public and political concern about the environment is reflected in an ever-increasing regulatory burden and in more stringent enforcement of legislation.

Activities such as the development of offshore oil and gas reserves will inevitably have an impact on the environment. This paper will examine the areas of potential environmental risk which these activities pose and review the pressures and potential liabilities for those operating in the sector. It will include an update on the Commission's proposed directive on civil liability for environmental damage caused by waste. It will then consider how risks can be minimised whilst still maintaining efficient and profitable operations.

Examples of best practice, new technology developments and changes in management procedures will be used to illustrate how environmental risks can be minimised.

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