UK oil and gas environmental impacts down

The negative impacts to the environment produced by the oil and gas sector in the UK has fallen in the last 15 years. That’s in line with the decline of the […]

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By Jacqueline Echevarria

The negative impacts to the environment produced by the oil and gas sector in the UK has fallen in the last 15 years.

That’s in line with the decline of the country’s industry production and the effective use of the best available techniques, according to a report by Oil & Gas UK which captured the sector’s environmental performance to the end of last year.

It stated since 2000 there has been an overall 37% decrease in the volume of produced water discharged to sea to 165 million cubic meters.

It added the average concentration of oil discharged with produced water across the industry was 14.2 milligrammes/litre last year less than half of regulation permissions.

The report also said the industry is taking steps to prevent accidental and chemical releases and last year saw the smallest mass on record of accidental oil released to the marine environment.

That means from 82 million tonnes of oil equivalent produced in 2015, accidental oil releases represented less than 0.00002% of total oil production.

The overall mass of chemicals accidentally released between 2010 and 2015 was down 65%.

Carbon Dioxide (CO2) emissions from offshore oil and gas production contributed just above 3% of the UK’s total CO2 emissions in 2015.

However, the report also said as production increased last year, the extraction of more oil and gas led to a rise in chemicals being discharged.

Emissions of CO2, Nitrogen Oxides, Carbon Monoxide and Sulphur Dioxide increased as well. Nevertheless, they are still well below what they were prior to 2013, continuing the downward trend in the longer term.

Mick Borwell, Health, Safety and Environment Policy Director with Oil and Gas UK said: “Despite the UK Continental Shelf being a mature basin with technically challenging production, the overall trend for the last 15 years is downwards for discharges, emissions and accidental releases. Put simply, we are using the same amount of chemicals and emitting less CO2 in the production of more oil and gas.

“Industry is committed to minimising the effect on the natural environment and all operators have an environmental management system which is designed to minimise environmental effect.”