As the demands on E&P companies for improvements in environmental performance have increased in recent years, so the service organisations in the E&P industry have had to demonstrate appropriate improvements. Confronted by the (often variable) requirements of our customers and by the proliferation of national and international standards for Environmental Management Systems (EMS) , we needed a benchmarking and audit system with global credentials. A further requirement was the ability to link environmental improvement programmes to those being used by the organisation for quality and safety performance improvement. This paper describes the business incentives for the selection and implementation of the Schlumberger North Sea / CIS (NSC) Unit audit and benchmarking programme.

Internally, benchmarking amongst the participating sites has been introduced. This promotes the transfer of best-practice solutions from site to site. The ability to implement the system internationally and facilitate the development of an EMS that is adapted to local requirements is particularly attractive. Furthermore, the choice of either internal (company) or external (specialist) auditors, who are trained to a common standard and are independent of national accreditation and certification bodies allows for consistent international implementation and assessment of programmes. Sites in two additional countries will be introduced to the programme in 1997 and, or 1998.

Externally, customer E&P organisations can be assured of EMS performance by reference to the benchmarked audit results. If local business conditions, or individual E&P companies require certification to a specified standard, this can be obtained by performing an additional audit, once the required benchmark level has been achieved.

The programme was launched at two sites in Scotland in the second half of 1995. Initial audits were conducted using external auditors. The objective of these audits was to obtain an accurate assessment of the existing environmental management system, identify areas for both site specific and regional improvement programmes and to set line management objectives (as measured by the benchmarking system) for each of the next two years.

From the initial audits the following areas were identified as being the primary candidates for improvement: identification, examination and evaluation of the environmental impact, both offshore and onshore, of the companies activities and services; establishing objectives and targets and action plans for environmental improvement programmes; systematic review and documentation of statutory obligations and liabilities; internal and external communication of environmental programmes, incidents and objectives; review of the planned maintenance programme to ensure adequate attention to environmental risks.

In 1996 improvement teams were established at the two audited sites and objectives for progress to be measured by audits in the second half of 1996 were set. The paper describes how a continuous improvement loop has been established to identify environmental issues, set objectives and targets, implement improvement programmes, measure performance and improvement through audit and benchmarking and use these results to continuously identify improvement opportunities. The paper discusses the achievements of the first eighteen months of the programme, the results of both the first and second rounds of audits, the experience of the improvement teams and the process of objective and target setting.

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