Managing our environmental and social impacts

We aim to manage environmental and social impacts throughout the life cycle of our operations - from early project planning to operations and decommissioning

We review our management of material issues such as climate change, water, how we engage with communities and human rights. This includes examining emerging risks and actions taken to mitigate them. We identify areas for improvement and work to address these where appropriate.

Project planning

Our operating management system (OMS) includes practices that set out requirements and guidance for how we identify and manage environmental and social impacts. The practices include topics such as our management of greenhouse gas emissions (GHG) and air quality, workforce welfare and cultural heritage. They apply to our major projects, projects that involve new access, those that could affect an international protected area and some BP acquisition negotiations. 

In the early planning stages, we complete a screening process to identify potential impacts associated with these projects. These may include risks to sensitive or internationally protected areas and water availability. We also consider social aspects such as prevalence of corruption and bribery in a host country, local employment and community health and safety. We completed this process for five projects in 2015 (2014 19, 2013 16). This is fewer than in previous years, primarily due to a reduction in major projects in line with the low oil price environment.

Following the screening process, we carry out impact assessments, identify mitigation measures and implement these in project design, construction and operations. For example, when screening for a drilling project in Canada, we identified the potential for cold-water corals in the project area. We plan to conduct surveys prior to activity to identify the exact location of the corals and to determine steps necessary to mitigate potential impacts.


Our operating sites can have a lifespan of several decades and our operations are expected to work to manage environmental and social impacts throughout.

Every year, our major operating sites review their environmental performance and set local improvement objectives. These can include measures for improving flaring and GHGs, air quality, or reducing oil spills, waste and impact on biodiversity. Potential impacts on the environment vary by site, according to the location and nature of each operation. We consider local environmental sensitivities and their potential impact on nearby communities in determining which issues require the greatest focus for impact reduction. At a site close to communities, for example, the immediate concern may be air quality, whereas a remote desert site may require greater consideration of water management issues.

As at March 2016, all our major operations were in conformance with ISO14001 with the exception of recently acquired assets and our US Lower 48 onshore business. Lower 48 works to identify and systematically manage the impact of its activities on the environment in line with the highly regulated US onshore market.

Our operating sites also have processes in place to collect and respond to concerns of local communities.

Decommissioning and remediation

BP works to restore the environment when remediating or decommissioning a site or in response to an unplanned incident. When evaluating and selecting the most appropriate approach, we take into account environmental and social considerations, such as potential energy use and the views of local communities.

For example, we are completing over two decades of remediation work to enable redevelopment of our former Paulsboro terminal in the US as a commercial port, which will provide jobs and economic opportunities for the local community and surrounding areas.

Managing environmental and social impacts

Our OMS requires that we manage potential impacts by applying internal practices and external standards, such as ISO 14001, at different points in the life cycle of our operations

A: Our operating management system
B: ISO 14001 applies
C: and D) Our environmental and social practices apply
E: New access projects and some acquisition negotiations
F: Major projects and projects that could affect an international protected area
G: Operations
H: Decommissioning

Complying with regulations

With operations in more than 70 countries, BP is subject to diverse and complex environmental and social laws and regulations. We manage applicable legal and regulatory health, safety, security, environmental and social requirements, through our OMS.


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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