December 6, 2018

A new report which provides an update on the environmental landscape of the UK offshore oil and gas industry to the end of 2017 has been published by Oil & Gas UK today (6 December).

The 2018 Environment Report, which analyses and interprets data gathered and monitored by the Offshore Petroleum Regulator for Environment and Decommissioning (OPRED), considers performance across a range of areas including emissions to atmosphere, chemical discharge, waste disposal and produced water.

The insight also provides a summary of activities undertaken by Oil & Gas UK groups over the last year to support the development of new environmental legislation, to share lessons learnt and good practice, and to improve industry environmental management.

Key findings include:

  • 2017 saw a reduction of 3 per cent in the volume of produced water discharged to sea during oil and gas production compared to 2016
  • The total amount of dispersed oil contained in the produced water discharged rose slightly to 2,140 tonnes.
  • Reinjection of produced water increased by 10 percent on the year and is at its highest recorded level.
  • Greenhouse Gas Emissions per installation were lower in 2017 than in 2016.
  • Industry’s greenhouse gas emissions contribute around 3 per cent of the total UK emissions, the same proportion as in 2016.
  • Over the same period carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions from the UK Continental Shelf (UKCS) saw an increase from 13.1 million tonnes in 2016 to 14.2 million tonnes in 2017, although the sector’s long-term trend for CO2 emissions continues to fall.
  • Gas venting saw an increase. Nearly one-third of the total was due to incombustible gas emissions where the CO2 content was too high to enable ignition which had to be vented rather than flared.
  • There were 451 accidental releases of oil and chemicals, fewer than in 2016, which amounted to around 279 tonnes reaching the marine environment.
  • Of these, 253 were accidental releases of approximately 23 tonnes of oil, representing 0.00003 per cent of total production
  • The majority of accidental chemical releases (96 per cent) are labelled as low hazard or PLONOR chemicals.

Commenting on the report, launched with industry this morning, Oil & Gas UK Environment Manager Katie Abbott said:

“The UK Continental Shelf is a mature and complex basin, and the challenges that accompany the production of hydrocarbons here mean that the data outlined in this report are equally complex.

“While innovative technology is contributing to environmental performance, through enhanced oil recovery which includes produced water re-injection, and the reduction in associated gas flared, challenges remain in other aspects.

“We continue to appraise longer term trends to identify learnings from accidental releases including the low frequency, high mass incidents.

“As a major hazard and heavily regulated industry, continued engagement with regulators, government and the sector is key in supporting efforts to reduce environmental risk, ensuring continued safe operation.”

“With that in mind, this annual report provides an opportunity for industry to review environmental performance indicators, reflect on the compliant practices and focus on areas where there are opportunities to drive further improvements.”