Water

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

We use fresh water in our drilling, hydraulic fracturing, upstream production, refining, petrochemicals and biofuels operations. We also use non-fresh water, such as seawater, to support upstream oil and gas production, and treated municipal wastewater at some of our refineries.

The exploration, production and refining of oil and gas accounts for around 1% of global freshwater withdrawals. Locally though this proportion can be higher, so we think it’s important to look at local conditions, such as water stress and scarcity, to manage potential impacts.

How we evaluate water risk

We assess water risks in our portfolio each year. We consider the local environment and quantity, quality and regulatory impacts, using tools such as the IPIECA Global Water Tool and the World Resources Institute Aqueduct Global Water Atlas.

We also conduct detailed assessments using the Global Environment Management Initiative Local Water Tool. We’ve applied the tool at six of our existing operations and incorporated it into impact assessments for five new projects since 2012. We use the outcomes to develop management plans that are appropriate to local conditions. For example, at our Sangachal terminal in Azerbaijan, we identified freshwater use as a potential issue due to water stress in the local area. We reviewed our water demands and developed actions which have led to a 75% reduction in freshwater withdrawals between 2013 and 2016.

Based on the IPIECA Global Water Tool, we estimate that slightly less than half of our major operations withdraw fresh water in areas where its availability is considered stressed or scarce. These operations are mainly in our downstream business. They account for 21% of our total freshwater withdrawals. We have not identified any significant risks from our withdrawal and consumption of fresh water from our 2016 analysis.

We’ve been taking actions to reduce freshwater use in areas of water scarcity for many years. For example, at our Kwinana refinery in Australia, 93% of freshwater demand is instead supplied by treated municipal wastewater and non-potable groundwater. Most of our onshore operations are in places where there is a mature regulatory regime, such as Europe and the US, where allocation of water is well governed.
Alistair Wyness, group water expert, safety and operational risk, BP

Water sources

BP withdraws fresh water from rivers, lakes, reservoirs and underground aquifers for our operations. We purchase water from municipal drinking water suppliers and use treated saline water in many areas, such as in our gas operations in Oman.

In 2016 more than 66% of our total freshwater withdrawals were returned to the environment, following appropriate treatment to meet local permitted standards.

The decrease in our freshwater withdrawal in 2016 is primarily due to reduced demand for cooling water when two refineries were taken offstream for planned maintenance, and the divestment of our Decatur petrochemical plant in the US.

In addition to freshwater withdrawals, we report our water consumption - that is, water we use that is not returned to the local water basin. We believe this provides a more comprehensive picture of our potential impacts.

In 2016 the volume of water consumed per unit of production - the consumption intensity - remained at a similar level to 2014 and 2015.

Freshwater withdrawal (million m³)
Freshwater withdrawal (million m³)
2012
2012
2013
2013
2014
2014
2015
2015
2016
2016
Freshwater withdrawal (million m³)

Group

2012

354a

2013

289

2014

280

2015

285b

2016

257

Freshwater withdrawal (million m³)

Upstream

2012

9.5

2013

10.3

2014

7.6

2015

6.8

2016

5.7

Freshwater withdrawal (million m³)

Downstream

2012

337

2013

271

2014

263

2015

264c

2016

239

Freshwater withdrawal (million m³)

Other businesses and corporate

2012

7.4

2013

7.9

2014

9.9

2015

13.5

2016

12.2

Freshwater consumption (million m³)ᵈ
Freshwater consumption (million m³)ᵈ
2013
2013
2014
2014
2015
2015
2016
2016
Freshwater consumption (million m³)ᵈ

Group

2013

106

2014

93

2015

92e

2016

87

Freshwater consumption (million m³)ᵈ

Percentage of withdrawal

2013

37

2014

33

2015

32f

2016

34

Consumption intensity (tonnes water/tonnes production)ᵈ
Consumption intensity (tonnes water/tonnes production)ᵈ
2014
2014
2015
2015
2016
2016
Consumption intensity (tonnes water/tonnes production)ᵈ

Group

2014

0.37

2015

0.38g

2016

0.36

Consumption intensity (tonnes water/tonnes production)ᵈ

Upstream

2014

0.05

2015

0.05

2016

0.04

Consumption intensity (tonnes water/tonnes production)ᵈ

Refining

2014

0.61

2015

0.57h

2016

0.58

Consumption intensity (tonnes water/tonnes production)ᵈ

Chemicals

2014

1.60

2015

1.81

2016

1.71

Managing discharges to water

Our operations manage significant volumes of wastewater, created, for example, when using water to test vessels or pipelines and from cooling water. We also manage what is known as produced water, which comes to the surface during the production of oil and gas. This water is either treated and then returned to the environment, reinjected back into the oil or gas reservoir or disposed of through other permitted means.

At our Khazzan gas development in Oman, we treat wastewater from our sewage treatment plant and reuse it for irrigation, road construction and dust suppression, reducing freshwater demand in an area of water scarcity.

Discharges to water
Discharges to water
2012
2012
2013
2013
2014
2014
2015
2015
2016
2016
Discharges to water

Upstream

2012
2013
2014
2015
2016
Discharges to water

Produced water (million tonnes)

2012

109

2013

95

2014

103

2015

91

2016

98

Discharges to water

Mass produced water per unit production d

2012

-

2013

-

2014

0.7

2015

0.6

2016

0.7

Discharges to water

Refining and chemicals

2012
2013
2014
2015
2016
Discharges to water

Wastewater treated (million m3)

2012

113i

2013

86

2014

82j

2015

87

2016

75

Discharges to water

Wastewater treatment performance measured as chemical oxygen demand discharge to environment (tonnes)

2012

4,635

2013

3,243

2014

3,562

2015

2,887

2016

3,037

Discharges to water

Wastewater treatment performance measured as average concentration of chemical oxygen demand discharged to environment (mg/l)

2012

49

2013

46

2014

52

2015

40

2016

49

a	The 2012 reported figure has been amended from 346.
b	The 2015 reported figure has been amended from 291. 
c	The 2015 reported figure has been amended from 271. 
d	Data for freshwater consumption and percentage of withdrawal was not reported in 2012 and water consumption intensity data was not reported in 2012 and 2013. 
e	The 2015 reported figure has been amended from 98.
f	The 2015 reported figure has been amended from 34%.
g	The 2015 reported figure has been amended from 0.41.
h	The 2015 reported figure has been amended from 0.62.
i	The 2012 reported figure has been amended from 115.
j	The 2014 reported figure has been amended from 83.

Related content