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Protecting the environment is a high priority, and therefore we have introduced a robust series of procedures to avoid and minimise the impact of our operations.

Cairn is committed to applying good industry practice in relation to the environment. Environmental and social assessments of our impacts are integrated into the planning of projects as a matter of routine. This helps us determine strategies for managing risks and identifying opportunities for improvements through the life of a project. Our materiality process also considers environment issues associated with our operations, ranging from strategic issues of climate change and biodiversity to specific project-related factors (see Biodiversity, Climate change and Materiality).

The accidental escape of oil into the environment is an area to which we pay particular attention. The most likely releases are relatively small and we continue to aim to prevent these. High-profile major spills are rare events but these are at the forefront of our planning and risk management process, including the planning of our projects in terms of well design and assessment, and the execution of prevention mechanisms (see Major accident and spill prevention).

We continue to seek ways to avoid and reduce impacts from discharges and wastes arising from our operations, through our environmental management process and day-to-day operational procedures (see Chemicals, water management and waste).

Environmental management

Through our Corporate Responsibility Management System (CRMS), environmental considerations form a central part of our Project Delivery Process (PDP) and are taken into account at every stage of the project life cycle, from identification of opportunities, to production and return. We use a precautionary approach, and one that we believe is best in safeguarding the areas in which we work.

Our operations also take into account the legal and regulatory requirements of the countries in which we work, and we cooperate fully with all government regulatory bodies. While we apply all local regulations, our CRMS requires us to consider industry good practice, for example International Association of Oil & Gas Producers (IOGP) guidelines and UK Continental Shelf (UKCS) custom and practices especially in locations with no local regulations. We aim to comply with the expectations of investors and shareholders in relation to the environmental and social impacts of our business.

Environmental Impact Assessment Diagram

Managing our environmental footprint

We make every effort to minimise the environmental footprint of our operations both onshore and offshore. This translates into a number of project-related activities. For example, in Senegal, where offshore drilling activities were supported from the Port of Dakar, operations were planned to ensure that:

  • our physical footprint onshore was minimised and confined to existing industrial sites (warehouses, lay-down areas, offices, etc.) within the well-defined port area;
  • physical distribution of drill cuttings discharges was modelled to understand the likely scale of impacts on the seabed; and
  • waste is managed to ensure reduction at source and minimisation of potentially recyclable materials requiring disposal in landfill.

We are also committed to constantly improving the ways in which we operate in order to reduce any potential risk to the environment. This is demonstrated by our willingness to learn from our experiences by continually assessing and reviewing our operations.

Stakeholder engagement and grievance mechanisms

Cairn’s Group Public Consultation and Disclosure Plan (PCDP) Framework provides an overview of how we engage with our stakeholders, and our activities and any potential impacts they may have on the environment, workforce or communities. At a corporate and project level, and through our environmental and social impact assessment processes, we communicate with a range of stakeholders to ensure we understand any concerns relating to our proposed operations. Where there are directly affected communities we work to ensure there is a regular and ongoing process of consultation and engagement. If we anticipate adverse impacts on affected communities, we establish a local grievance mechanism to receive and facilitate resolution of the affected communities’ concerns. We publicise this in different ways, including through our website and local publications. We aim to provide responses to all queries and grievances within 30 days.

Highlights and objectives that relate to the environment are summarised below.

2015 highlights

  • Our initial 2014 exploration operations in Senegal were completed in line with our ESIA and a summary of performance against set targets was completed and submitted to the regulator.
  • An addendum to our 2014 Senegal ESIA was developed for the 2015 campaign to take into account proposed changes and mitigations were implemented. Our appraisal drilling campaign offshore Senegal received approval from the Technical Committee set by the Ministry of Environment and Sustainable Development (Department for the Environment and Classified Installations) in August 2015.
  • The Senegal drilling Project Risk Study and Dossier for Installations Classified for Environmental Protection (ICPE, covering dangerous operations, equipment and substances) and the Plan of Internal Operations (POI, emergency preparedness and response strategy) were all updated to support the amended ESIA.
  • Environmental and social assessment and mitigation measures, although not statutory requirements, were implemented for our Senegal 3D seismic campaign with emphasis on protecting the fishing community and marine mammals.
  • Ongoing social and environmental engagement with the regulators in Senegal for the appraisal drilling programme is being managed through a Communications Plan by both the Dakar and the Edinburgh teams.

2016 objectives

  • Track and understand developments arising from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, Conference of the Parties (COP 21) in Paris and consider implications for the business and our assets.
  • No oil spill reaching the environment.

We will continue to support assets in avoiding and minimising our environmental footprint and assess our impacts and mitigate them as our activities change.

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