UK oil firms report environmental impacts

First annual report reveals mixed performance on oil discharges, chemical releases

The UK Offshore Operators Association (UKOOA) has published a report quantifying for the first time the environmental impacts of Britain's 35 offshore oil and gas producers. Introducing the report, which is intended to be the first in an annual series, UKOOA president Steve Suellentrop observes that, while the benefits of the industry's products have been evident, "increasingly, both the public, the government regulators and licensees are unwilling to tolerate poor environmental performance." The report describes the industry's efforts to curb its key impacts. For instance, it notes that although the total amount of oil discharged by UKOOA members in 1997 was at its lowest for five years at 6,632 tonnes, the proportion due to accidental oil spills - 866 tonnes - rocketed in 1997 due to one exceptionally large spill. The frequency of spills has increased year-on-year since 1993. Chemical discharges increased from 156 tonnes in 1996 to 205 tonnes in 1997, although the proportion due to the most hazardous chemicals used by the industry went down. Gas consumption as fuel for pumping, compression and transport accounted for 61% of the sector's carbon dioxide emissions, followed by gas flaring at 24%. The industry's projects to control flaring and other impacts including from the decommissioning of offshore oil platforms are discussed.

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