Abstract

The oil and gas industry has been operating for many years in some of the world’s most sensitive environments. This paper highlights the critical areas of connection between the biodiversity issue and petroleum industry activities such as access rights, technology transfer and indigenous organizations. Case studies illustrate some of the key lessons learned by the oil industry through its experiences of operating responsibly in environments of high biodiversity. Successful operations have generally relied upon: management commitment, leadership, and involvement in environment conservation; application of best possible environment, health and safety (EHS) practices in petroleum-related activities; communication of the risks to, and setting standards for, all parties involved; undertaking thorough environmental and socioeconomic impact assessments; and monitoring the effects and verifying the impact predictions in order to ensure all mitigating measures are effective.

Central to the issue of industry operations and biodiversity is the need to balance environmental impacts with economic and social benefits—benefits not only to the oil company but also to the countries and communities in which it operates. Engaging all potentially affected stakeholders in consultation and decision- making is essential. Industry, government and the public must work together to establish and to achieve realistic industrial and employment goals, and to seek positive opportunities to preserve biodiversity in an integrated manner. A concern for biodiversity is a concern for the natural balance of the planet and for the sustainability of our life styles.

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