Water is an essential element in the upstream and downstream operations of oil and gas companies. Yet water, particularly fresh water, is already a scarce resource in many parts of world and further constraints are predicted. Continuing the development and implementation of water stewardship practices across the oil and gas lifecycle is therefore considered an important component in a company’s sustainability strategy.

IPIECA, the global oil and gas industry association for environmental and social issues, has recently made significant strides in this arena to raise stakeholders and the industry’s awareness of water management issues. IPIECA has developed a water management framework which adopts the principles of water stewardship. Uptake and adoption of the framework should lead to recognition by internal and external stakeholders that the oil and gas inudsty is proactively and collectively managing the issues related to sustainable water use and acting as stewards of this valuable resource.

The IPIECA water management framework outlines a series of industry guidelines, tools and initiatives providing a comprehensive approach through the full lifecycle of oil and gas development and production. The framework builds upon the systematic approach which is adopted by IPIECA to manage water risk – ‘global->local->guidance’ (SPE 157544). This approach includes the use of the IPIECA Global Water Tool for Oil and Gas and the Global Environmental Management Initiative (GEMI) Local Water Tool for Oil and Gas to help business better understand both the global and local level water risk from which specific guidance is then developed.

The World Water Forum Target 2.3.6 which was identified at the 6th World Water Forum in Marseilles in 2012, to "drive responsible water management in oil & gas exploration and production" is aligned with the IPIECA Water Management Framework. Work on this target is being led by IPIECA with support from the International Association of Oil and Gas Producers (OGP). The development of the IPIECA framework should support and improve the sector’s water management practices and approaches.

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