Why have environmental management in the oil industry
The development of environmental management in the oil industry is extremely important. Through it, the sector’s environmental impacts can be assessed and monitored, in line with the growing demand for sustainable actions.
Thinking about the importance of the theme, we produced this article in which we clarified what environmental management is, its importance, the benefits it provides and ways of implementing it in the oil industry. Continue reading and learn more!
What is environmental management and why is it increasingly important?
Environmental management is characterized by the professional assessment of possible environmental impacts as a result of human actions. From this study, three processes follow: planning, development and management of activities aimed at environmental control and protection.
For an effective environmental management to be carried out it is necessary to have specialists with the skills to collect, analyze, treat and manage resources and waste – natural and generated by industrial activities. Another essential factor in environmental management is knowledge about the legislation that governs the conduct in this field.
To help us clarify this area and what it represents, we spoke with Paulo Correia, Director of HSEQ (Health, Safety, Environment and Quality – Safety, Environment, Health and Quality) at Subsea 7 Brasil. The very scenario that has been outlined since the discovery and evolution of Covid-19 shows us how catastrophic impacts can occur from unidentified and / or poorly managed conditions. Paralleling environmental management, Paulo ponders:
“If we, as individuals, companies and society, do not understand exactly the impacts that we can cause on the environment and its consequences, we will be heading for catastrophic situations of difficult control and proportions much larger than that of Covid-19 itself.”
The development of environmental management occurred as a consequence of the needs observed in relation to the use of natural resources: the notion that we must, when possible, replace what is taken from nature. And when this is not possible, minimize the damage caused as much as possible.
Actions based on efficient environmental management not only prevent problems, but also benefit companies that invest in it. An example is the change in marine transport fuel.
What are the benefits for the company?
Environmental management works in a chain, benefiting all active parts. This is what Paulo tells us:
“Companies are increasingly integrating environmental elements into their business strategies and strategic planning. Organizations that adopt structured environmental management, in addition to contributing to the maintenance of the ecosystems in which they operate, improve relations with shareholders, suppliers and consumers, and this can be a market differentiator.”
In addition to all this and the legal compliance provided by correct environmental management, other relevant benefits are generated, for example, by reducing:
- environmental accidents;
- consumption of natural resources;
- energy consumption;
- pollutant emissions;
- waste generation.
Specific benefits for the oil industry
The Oil & Gas (O&G) market has a history that may initially cause resistance. It is seen by many as a “dirty” industry, in the sense of being harmful to the environment. As Paulo explains, the accident of the Piper Alpha platform in the North Sea was a milestone, since from that event a more critical and concerned thought started to develop, culminating in environmental management actions, related to items such as:
- staff training;
- the infrastructure;
As a result, “the Oil & Gas industry has achieved a significant improvement in its environmental and safety performance, generating a brutal reduction in the exposure of companies in the sector, improving its image before society and contributing to the improvement of working conditions. and the reduction of environmental impacts generated by its activity.”
How to implement environmental management in the oil industry?
The implementation of environmental management in the oil industry must follow careful steps, after all, we are dealing with something of immense relevance. Below, we show what these steps are.
Top management decision
This is a moment of analysis on several factors. First, the benefits that will be achieved from the implementation of an environmental management system.
What are the paths to be followed according to the needs of the company and the impacts caused by it? Will a system be implemented just to obtain better environmental performance or will the company also aim at obtaining a management certificate, for example, ISO 14001? These are some of the questions that must be answered by senior management.
Initial environmental analysis
Having defined these terms, a crucial moment has arrived for the development of the environmental management system: obtaining information and listing the initial state of the organization and the impacts caused, in terms of processes, products or services.
Verification of legal compliance
As we said, understanding the normative aspects that involve environmental management is fundamental. In this phase, all legal, technical and industry requirements applicable to the activities and impacts, both potential and known, caused by the company will be identified.
Bodies such as the National Environment System (Sisnama) and the National Petroleum, Natural Gas and Biofuels Agency (ANP) indicate regulations for activities.
This is a stage of organizing the necessary documentation to comply with the requirements contained in the laws, as well as the standards selected by the companies – ISO 14001 is the main one.
From this stage, the practices have already started to be carried out, in a structured way. Here, steps are included as:
- training personnel in the processes to be applied;
- implementation and communication of environmental policies;
- the implementation of procedures in the applicable areas;
- generation of records showing compliance with the rules;
- establishment of objectives based on the planning and observation of routines;
- the implementation of necessary oil and gas technologies;
- monitoring and legal checks.
Internal audits must be carried out in order to verify that the requirements contained in the environmental management system are properly carried out by all responsible parties.
This stage is the one that “crowns” the organization for providing excellent service to requests for the area, according to the selected international standard, a process carried out by a crediting agency. Normally, ISO 14001.
What are the main challenges faced?
For an environmental management system to be created and to develop well, it is necessary for the organization’s top management to act actively and seek employee engagement. Awareness of the importance of what they do and the joint action between management and employees are crucial to deal with the challenges.
Another aspect of challenging environmental management is legal compliance with all standards, due to the broad and complex nature of the legislation. For this reason, the company must surround itself with competent professionals in the area, who always seek updates and are detailed.
Finally, the HSEQ director at Subsea 7 Brasil leaves us with an important message:
“I understand that there is a worldwide trend to develop activities of a sustainable nature very in line with the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) elaborated at the United Nations Conference in Rio de Janeiro in 2012. I think this is an excellent way to the future and to promote more efficient environmental management systems.”
We hope that after reading this content, you are motivated to promote environmental education in your work environment and to reduce the environmental impacts caused. Environmental management in the oil industry can provide this: socioeconomic improvement associated with environmental sustainability.
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