o&g industry

News

Driving sustainability 
in the oil & gas 
industry

Jul. 8 2020

In the shifting energy landscape, sustainability remains firmly embedded in the Oil and Gas companies’ strategy, whether through reducing emissions, protecting employee safety or securing new data-driven processes. Far from simply keeping up with regulations, the world’s major oil and gas operators are raising standards by anticipating market needs and investing in tailored solutions.

Bruno Ferreyra, Executive Vice President of Oil & Gas at Bureau Veritas, explains, “If the evolutions of these last months have been able to bring O&G players to optimize their investments, their environmental challenges have remained central”.

Fugitive emissions: a global concern

For oil and gas operations, CO2 and methane are usually the most significant components of Green House Gases (GHG) emissions. Limiting methane emissions is an immediate concern for industry leaders, who are taking a source-by-source approach, improving management of energy/combustion, flaring, venting and fugitive emissions. The

Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change defines fugitive emissions as “emissions [of greenhouse gases] that are not produced intentionally by a stack or vent” and stipulates that they may “include leaks from industrial plants and pipelines ».

Given that the oil and gas sector could realistically reduce its methane emissions by 75%, according to the International Energy Agency, the United Nations has set up a Global Methane Alliance to encourage reduction targets of at least 45% by 2025 and 60-75% by 2030, or near-zero methane intensity.

To meet this challenge, many international oil operators are working with Bureau Veritas to measure emissions on site, identify sources of leakage, assess different scenarios and recommend action. Solutions may involve mitigating risks at aging facilities (such as by reducing leaks through improvement of integrity and reliability) or designing new installations to improve emissions control from the outset (like those that recover and reuse escaping gas). “This activity reflects our core mission of supporting our clients towards responsible progress in developing safe and reliable actions,” states Ferreyra.

Implementing this global mission at regional level, Bureau Veritas in Africa is actively campaigning for trapping leakages to reduce emissions from Africa’s aging plants where lack of maintenance activities, low quality equipment and spares during repair activities are common troubles of leaks and many times causes of number of fire incidences taking toll on environmental and life.

Proactive, tailored environmental strategies

More widely, each company has a distinct long-term sustainable strategy based on its assets, activities, processes and geographic footprint. “The priorities are very different, depending on whether they’re operating onshore or offshore, for example, and the kind of assets they manage,” says Ferreyra. In his view, oil operators are at the forefront of climate commitments, proactively going beyond minimum requirements in terms of risk assessment, performance and reporting.

Of course, regulation remains important to driving the industry as a whole forward, and Bureau Veritas is cooperating with government bodies around the world to define standards and methodology for more accurate monitoring, quantification and emissions reduction. “Compliance has always played a strong role in the oil and gas sector, with every crisis leading to stricter controls. But the focus has shifted emissions. Now, the rules cover more ground and are increasingly detailed.” Ferreyra expects regulation to cover additional greenhouse gases in the future.

Leakages of crude oil, gas flaring and the escape of other chemicals used in production processes has been affecting biodiversity in Africa for many years. Gas flares typically contain more than 250 toxins and is very unfriendly to natural ecosystems and biodiversity.

Government regulations can enforce and protect ecosystems but effective implementation, enforcement and monitoring of these regulations in Africa has been a major challenge always. Responsible agencies like Bureau Veritas can play an important role in regulatory compliances for environment safety.

HSE: an ongoing priority

The Oil & Gas industry is traditionally associated with the development of the capabilities and human resources through localization programs related to fabrication but also operations. Such needs expressed by the Production Countries Governments are perfectly aligned with the sustainable goal to develop local expertise to design, build, and operate complex facilities. In the medium and long term, it will also enlarge the pool of competent personnel for the O&G industry at a much needed time.

Tackling Environmental Degradation through plastic waste, waste burning in open etc are another areas of concern in Africa indirectly under the onus of oil & gas industry. Community engagement, discussion with government institutions for generating awareness, creating local skill base and appropriate use of technology safeguarding ecosystem within country are some of the areas where Bureau Veritas is engaging with Oil Companies, Government institutions in Africa where oil & gas industry forms major employment opportunities sector and have wider economic implications to many African countries.

Meanwhile, health and safety remain paramount for oil and gas operators. “The H, S and E of health, safety and the environment haven’t all developed at the same pace. While there’s a very strong focus on the ‘E’ today, the ‘S’ continues to be an absolute priority across the supply chain, with everyone committed to zero incidents. The ‘H’ has always been important, especially guaranteeing quality working conditions and minimizing employees’ exposure to risks. However, the recent pandemic has emphasized the need to quickly adapt to new risks, realign to a new context and build on the lessons learned.” Bureau Veritas has been providing solutions to help clients assess health risks, comply with hygiene regulations and in particular to reassure employees and customers when continuing or restarting operations.

In particular, the move towards digital project management tools has accelerated, with a dramatic increase in remote inspection solutions and demand for cybersecurity. “Today, when companies are developing new projects or reviewing maintenance and operations plans, there’s a strong focus on securing the integrity of the information feed, from data capture and processing to transmission. This is critical for accurate analyses.”

Growing scope

Looking to the future, Ferreyra emphasizes the growing scope of risk management in the oil and gas industry. “Bureau Veritas works across the supply chain and the asset lifecycle worldwide. This global perspective clearly provides us with an edge supporting clients to meet today’s energy needs while building a low carbon future.”

Africa’s Oil & Gas project supply chain extends way beyond Africa to the companies and suppliers largely out of Africa. Hence, Bureau Veritas’ work across the worldwide supply chain supporting clients with their global mission and pushing it to the last link of supply chain at local level in Africa mantaining the same emphasis of the mission is important.

Providing these transformations using Digital solutions is another area Bureau Veritas is driving development at Africa level.

All these works are to help support  strategic use of Oil & gas resources for accelerated growth and at the same time, for achieving future vision of sustainability and safety in Oil & Gas.