Managing our environmental and social impacts

Our OMS helps our businesses around the world to understand and minimize environmental and social impacts

Our OMS lays out the steps and safeguards that we believe are necessary to maintain responsible operations, helping our businesses around the world to understand and minimize environmental and social impacts.

We apply internal practices and external standards, such as the ISO 14001 environmental management standard, at different times over the life of an operation to:

  • identify and assess potential impacts in the planning stages
  • take appropriate steps to mitigate impacts throughout operations
  • monitor and mitigate impacts after operations have ended.

We review our management of material issues such as climate change, human rights, air quality, biodiversity, water and how we engage with communities.

Project planning

We have specific requirements and recommendations governing how we identify and manage potential impacts of projects that carry particular environmental and social risks. These apply to our major projects, projects that involve new access, those that could affect an international protected area and some BP acquisition negotiations.

We carry out a screening process to identify the potential impacts that these projects could have over their lifetime, such as impacts on sensitive or protected areas and water use. For example, we conducted baseline assessments in the Foz Do Amazonas basin, 160 kilometres from the coast of Brazil, ahead of our planned exploration activity. This was part of our environmental impact assessment and oil spill response planning, which we did in partnership with other operators in the area. The assessments included water and sediment sampling, monitoring of sea currents and bird, fish and marine mammal surveys.

We also consider social aspects, including prevalence of corruption and bribery in the host country, local employment, security and human rights, resettlement, community health and safety, and the livelihoods of local communities, including indigenous peoples. The findings help us to design and then carry out impact assessments, identify mitigation measures and implement these in project design, construction and operations.

Operations

Our operating sites can have a lifespan of several decades and our operations 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 reducing flaring, greenhouse gas and air emissions, and waste.

We prioritize our efforts according to local environmental sensitivities and their impact on nearby communities. For example, part of the Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan pipeline runs through an environmentally sensitive part of Georgia. We determined the best way to monitor for potential pipeline leaks while avoiding the need to dig pipeline trenches was to use specially trained ‘sniffer’ dogs. The dogs’ ability to detect gas in the parts per billion range allows us to monitor for pipeline leaks while avoiding disruption to the land.

Decommissioning and remediation

We work to restore the environment when closing down 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 the reuse of materials and the views of local communities. For example, at a former gas plant in Kansas in the US, approximately 97% of the materials from the decommissioning process were recycled or re-used, including concrete and building materials.

Complying with regulations

With operations in 72 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.

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