The industry takes its responsibility towards the environment very seriously and works with Government, industry and all relevant stakeholders to minimise the environmental footprint of operations. Finding and producing oil and gas is an industrial process that, inevitably, has some degree of effect on the environment and the challenge is to balance this with the benefits that society takes from having a secure energy supply.


Industry emissions and discharges

  • The Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) approves and issues permits for discharges and emissions from UK offshore installations.
  • Discharges and emissions include atmospheric emissions, drill cuttings, chemical discharges, waste, accidental releases and produced water – water that comes to the surface with hydrocarbons during production.
  • Studies on the UK and Norwegian Continental Shelves indicate contaminants from offshore operations are at background levels beyond the immediate platform vicinity.
  • The OSPAR Commission – which aims to protect and conserve the North East Atlantic and its resources – considers that over 70 per cent of chemicals discharged in 2016 under permit on the UKCS pose little or no risk to the marine environment.


Accidental releases

  • The UK oil and gas industry strives to prevent accidental oil and chemical releases by using physical barriers.
  • Oil and gas operators must have an Oil Pollution Emergency Plan (OPEP) in place to counter any release.
  • The mass of accidental releases continues to decline according to data submitted to BEIS.
  • Accidental oil releases in 2016 comprised 0.000014 per cent of total oil production.
  • Accidental chemical releases represented 0.1 per cent of the total chemicals used in 2016 in the production of hydrocarbons.


Well flow rates

  • Interim Oil & Gas UK survey results show platform and subsea wells on the UK Continental Shelf (UKCS) have relatively low unassisted flow rates.
  • Only one per cent are capable of flow rates over 5,000 barrels of oil per day.


Further safeguarding

  • OSPAR and the European Union issue decisions, recommendations, regulations and directives aimed at protecting the environment.
  • Their goals and targets are enshrined in UK legislation.
  • All operating companies involved in exploring and producing on the UKCS must have an independently verified Environmental Management System in place.


Find out more in our Environment Report