Water

BP recognizes the importance of managing fresh water use and water discharges in our operations

BP uses fresh water in our drilling, hydraulic fracturing, upstream production, refining, petrochemicals, and biofuels operations. At some of our refineries, we also use non-fresh water, such as seawater and treated municipal wastewater.

The exploration, production and refining of oil and gas accounts for about 1% of global freshwater withdrawals and much of the water withdrawn is returned to the local water basin. However, it is important to look at potential impacts - such  as water scarcity, wastewater disposal and the long-term competition for water resources - at a local level.

Assessing water risks

We review our water risks annually. We use the IPIECA Global Water Tool and the World Resources Institute Aqueduct Global Water Atlas to identify potential quantity, quality and regulatory risks across all our operated assets.

We use the Global Environment Management Initiative Local Water Tool to assess local water conditions and constraints and develop appropriate management actions. We have applied the tool at five existing operations and as part of impact assessments at five new projects.

We assess a project’s life cycle water demand and how this may be met from available water resources in the area. For example, we analysed the water demands of our Khazzan project in Oman through the life of the operation and tested these using a detailed groundwater model. This allowed us to understand the wider context of water risks within the area and manage our impacts appropriately.

We collaborate with the University of Cambridge on research into the potential effects of water scarcity on patterns of energy supply and demand. As a result of our collaboration, the Foreseer visualization tool was developed, which demonstrates the link between water, land and energy, and how policy decisions about one resource may impact the others. The tool is available for use by a variety of stakeholders such as policymakers, research organizations and industry, and has so far been applied in California, Abu Dhabi and China. 

We also assess different technology approaches for optimizing water consumption and wastewater treatment performance. For example, we have evaluated different approaches for reducing fresh water use in our purified terephthalic acid (PTA) operations, such as wastewater recycling and seawater cooling.

We monitor the increasing number of regulations pertaining to freshwater withdrawals and water discharge quality where we operate. This has led to investments in our wastewater treatment plants at our refineries in Europe and the US.

Water sources

BP withdraws fresh water from rivers, lakes, reservoirs and underground aquifers for our operations. We also purchase water from municipal drinking water suppliers. We use treated saline water in many areas, including in our unconventional gas operations in Oman. At some locations, such as our Kwinana refinery in Australia, we use specially treated water sourced from municipal wastewater treatment plants as our primary source of water for industrial use. 

We have not identified any significant risks from our withdrawal and consumption of fresh water. Based on the IPIECA Global Water Tool, we estimate that around half  of our major operations are located in areas where the availability of fresh water is considered stressed or scarce. However, these operations account for only 18% of our total freshwater withdrawal and are located in areas where water allocation and monitoring is well governed.
Freshwater withdrawal (million m³)
Freshwater withdrawal (million m³)
2011
2011
2012
2012
2013
2013
2014
2014
2015
2015
Freshwater withdrawal (million m³)
Group
2011
337
2012
346
2013
289
2014
280
2015
291
Freshwater withdrawal (million m³)
Upstream
2011
10.7
2012
9.5
2013
10.3
2014
7.6
2015
6.8
Freshwater withdrawal (million m³)
Downstream
2011
325
2012
337
2013
271
2014
263
2015
271
Freshwater withdrawal (million m³)
Other business and corporate
2011
0.1
2012
7.4
2013
7.9
2014
9.9
2015
13.5
The increase in our freshwater withdrawal in 2015 is primarily due to increased production in some of our refinery and petrochemical operations, and in our biofuels operations in Brazil.

We return a proportion of the fresh water withdrawn for our operations to the same fresh water source from which it was withdrawn after treatment.
Freshwater consumption (million m³)
Freshwater consumption (million m³)
2013
2013
2014
2014
2015
2015
Freshwater consumption (million m³)
Group
2013
106
2014
93
2015
98
Freshwater consumption (million m³)
Percentage of withdrawal
2013
37%
2014
33%
2015
34%
In 2015 the volume of water consumed per unit of production - the consumption intensity - increased slightly. This relative increase reflects improvements to our measurement methodology, rather than a decline in efficiency. We introduced a more accurate approach to measuring our water consumption in 2015. Our assessment now accounts for precipitation collected and managed within our operations, which was unaccounted for in our 2013 and 2014 estimates.
Consumption intensity (tonnes water/tonnes production)
Consumption intensity (tonnes water/tonnes production)
2014
2014
2015
2015
Consumption intensity (tonnes water/tonnes production)
Group
2014
0.37
2015
0.41
Consumption intensity (tonnes water/tonnes production)
Upstream
2014
0.05
2015
0.05
Consumption intensity (tonnes water/tonnes production)
Refining
2014
0.61
2015
0.62
Consumption intensity (tonnes water/tonnes production)
Petrochemicals
2014
1.60ᵃ
2015
1.81
ᵃ The 2014 reported figure of 1.53 has been amended to 1.60.

Managing discharges to water

Our operations manage significant volumes of wastewater, created, for example, as a result of using water to test vessels or pipelines, or cooling water. We also manage produced water, which is brought to the surface during the production of hydrocarbons. These waters can be treated and then released back into the environment, re-injected back into the oil or gas reservoir or disposed of through other permitted means. In our biofuels operations in Brazil, the nutrient-rich wastewater from the ethanol refineries is reused as a source of irrigation water and fertilizer for the sugar cane crops.
Discharges to water
Discharges to water
2011
2011
2012
2012
2013
2013
2014
2014
2015
2015
Discharges to water

Upstream

2011
2012
2013
2014
2015
Discharges to water
Produced water (million tonnes)
2011
122
2012
109
2013
95
2014
103
2015
91
Discharges to water
Mass of produced water per unit of production
2011
2012
2013
2014
0.7
2015
0.6
Discharges to water

Refining and chemicals

2011
2012
2013
2014
2015
Discharges to water
Wastewater treated (million m³)
2011
114
2012
115
2013
86
2014
83
2015
87
Discharges to water
Chemical oxygen demand (tonnes)
2011
5,284
2012
4,635
2013
3,363
2014
3,612
2015
2,887
ᵇ Applies to wastewater treated at BP-operated treatment facilities.
The reduction in water discharged or disposed of via injection wells by our upstream business in 2015 is primarily a result of divestments in Alaska.

The volume of wastewater treated and discharged by our refining and petrochemicals businesses has increased slightly as a result of increased production at our Zhuhai PTA plant in China.

The decline in the total mass of chemical oxygen demand (COD) - an indicator of waste water quality based on chemical content - in our refining and chemicals businesses is due to improved treatment performance at many sites, including our Toledo and Whiting refineries in the US, and our Rotterdam refinery in the Netherlands, where we commissioned a new wastewater treatment plant.

Attestation

The information on this page forms part of the information reviewed and reported on by Ernst & Young as part of BP's 2015 sustainability reporting. View the full assurance statement.

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