Biodiversity and Sensitive Areas Impact Prevention Along Project Lifecycle Through the Application of the Mitigation Hierarchy
- Marco Pelucchi (Eni Upstream and Technical Services, Milan, Italy) | Jason Sali (Eni Upstream and Technical Services, Milan, Italy) | Laura Consalvi (Eni Upstream and Technical Services, Milan, Italy) | Paola Maria Pedroni (Eni Upstream and Technical Services, Milan, Italy)
- Document ID
- Society of Petroleum Engineers
- SPE International Conference and Exhibition on Health, Safety, Environment, and Sustainability, 27-31 July, Virtual
- Publication Date
- Document Type
- Conference Paper
- 2020. Society of Petroleum Engineers
- 7 Management and Information, 7.3.3 Project Management, 7.2.1 Risk, Uncertainty and Risk Assessment, 7.2 Risk Management and Decision-Making
- Sensitive Area, environmental impact prevention, Innovation, Mitigation Hierarchy, Biodiversity
- 2 in the last 30 days
- 28 since 2007
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Effective minimization of environmental footprint can be achieved through the timely and systematic application of innovative approaches such as the Mitigation Hierarchy (MH) along O&G project lifecycle. This ensures the presence of biodiversity and sensitive areas (such as protected areas, critical habitats and threatened species) and good management practices properly inform project activities that depend and may impact on natural environment.
The MH is a framework designed to maximise impact prevention over restoration and offset, balancing development priorities with the sustainable use of natural resources. Consisting of a sequence of two preventive (avoid and minimise) and two corrective measures (restore and offset), it is adopted by the extractive sector, development banks and financial institutions as the current best available tool for achieving measurable performance objectives such as no net loss or net positive impact. However, its timely and systematic application along project lifecycle can be challenging, particularly for companies with a complex, diversified and global asset portfolio.
In line with company Policy on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (BES), we apply the MH as early as possible in the project lifecycle. To effectively minimise project environmental footprint, we prioritize preventive over corrective measures following a risk-based approach which accounts for the complexities of each project and the natural and social environment it interacts with.
Along the project lifecycle, we have faced internal and external challenges in the practical implementation of the mitigation hierarchy. Internal challenges included aligning the project engineering and financing timelines with the BES baseline and impact assessment timeline, while external challenges include balancing demands of local communities and other stakeholders, the diverse operational contexts and regulatory frameworks aligned with or lacking mitigation best practices. Innovative and collaborative approaches are therefore necessary to effectively communicate or build capacity on company science-based BES management practices.
Early exploration and development phases correspond with best opportunity to identify BES priorities and apply the preventive steps of the MH. Applications include evaluating new opportunities, spatial placement or relocation of facilities and linear infrastructure, and project scheduling. During the development phase, a suite of GIS-based tools and BES assessments provide a supportive framework to apply the MH in concept selection, definition and execution. Subsequently in the operational phase, Action Plans are used to ensure the delivery and iterative evaluation of impact mitigation and the continuous improvement of BES performance.
Through practical examples spanning different phases of the project lifecycle and sites located in biodiversity rich and sensitive areas (e.g. United States, Myanmar, Ghana, Egypt and Ecuador), this paper will illustrate how challenges can be overcome starting from early exploration phase (evaluation of new ventures), in project development (design and construction), and during production. We will also reflect on the contribution of the MH to value creation from operations in sensitive areas.
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