Chemicals, water management and waste
We appreciate that our business depends upon water resources and the use of chemicals and generates waste.
Chemical formulation for drilling fluids for our exploration campaigns undergoes rigorous selection to ensure well safety and minimisation of impacts on the environment.
We identify and assess the potential risks and impacts of chemicals as part of the Environmental and Social Impact Assessments (ESIAs) we carry out before starting new operations. We have a stringent approach to chemical waste management.
Cairn manages chemicals in accordance with the Oslo and Paris Convention for the Protection of the Marine Environment of the North-East Atlantic (OSPAR). It is an internationally recognised mechanism, developed by 15 governments of the western coasts and catchments of Europe, together with the European Union.
We continued using water-based drilling fluids during exploration and appraisal drilling in Senegal but chose a formulation in line with the Best Practicable Environmental Option (BPEO) approach. This allowed us to minimise the use and discharge of chemicals classified as candidates for substitution under the OSPAR system, reducing the potential for adverse effects on marine wildlife while maintaining the safety of drilling operations and minimising potential for well control incidents.
Every chemical used in the Senegal exploration campaign was checked for its suitability for the drilling programme before submission for approval by the regulatory authority.
Unfortunately, we had a very small spill of waste oil to a surface drain at Dakar port during tank cleaning. This was less than one litre in volume and the environmental impact was insignificant.
At Cairn, we appreciate that our business both impacts and depends on water resources close to our operations, while recognising that access to clean water by communities is a key human right. We have had a water resource strategy in place for some years, which covers:
- monitoring and assessing the need for fresh water abstraction and use, and potential impacts on fresh water resources of our operations;
- investigating ways to improve our fresh water management processes;
- identifying, evaluating and implementing improvement measures to reduce impacts on fresh water; and
- enhancing reporting of our fresh water resources management.
In our present exploration activities offshore our use of fresh water is very limited and some seawater is used in drilling fluid formulation. For offshore activities, we carefully manage all discharges into the sea. Sewage, organic kitchen waste, bilges and contaminated drainage water are all treated and discharged in strict compliance with the International Convention for the Prevention of Pollution from Ships (MARPOL).
Our management of wastes is in line with internationally accepted best practices and legal requirements and ‘Duty of Care’ standards remain our priority.
Our exploration activities generate different volumes and types of waste, including oil-contaminated wastes, chemical wastes, non-hazardous wastes from office and domestic operations, and clinical wastes from medical facilities offshore.
All wastes generated during offshore support operations (i.e. ship-based activities excluding drilling) are managed in accordance with MARPOL 73/78 requirements. Wastes that cannot be discharged at sea or incinerated offshore are segregated and transferred to shore for further treatment and disposal.
In Senegal, we partnered with an international waste service provider to ensure that:
- the waste management options in-country are well understood prior to start-up of operations;
- local facilities and service providers have been audited and, where gaps are identified, plans are put in place to meet our requirements;
- the Waste Management Plan was informed by the findings from in-country reviews and audits;
- daily supervision of the waste management activities is set up for the duration of operations and a cradle-to-grave approach is followed through for each waste stream;
- hazardous wastes, which cannot be treated locally in Senegal, are transferred to suitable treatment and disposal facilities outside Senegal and in full compliance with international law, including the Basel Convention; and
- records of wastes and their treatment and disposal routes are maintained at all times.
On completion of exploration and appraisal activities, all waste management facilities used in the course of the project are subject to a close-out audit and final disposal.
The majority of Cairn’s waste is produced by contractors, so our priority for 2015 was to put Waste Management Plans in place before operational activity started.