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bp and the environment

We respect the environments in which we operate. We also respect the communities that depend on these environments for resources to support their livelihoods

We approach every major project aiming to understand and sustain the local environment through reciprocal engagement with local communities. To identify potential impacts, we carry out detailed environmental and social assessments before starting major projects. In 2019 we updated our requirements and associated guidance in our operating management system (OMS), for sites to effectively mitigate their environmental and social impacts through the mitigation hierarchy.

 
We believe that incorporating the principles of circular business models can help us use natural resources, including waste from projects, in a more sustainable way.

Our operating management system 

bp operating sites around the world manage their environmental and social impacts in line with our operating management system (OMS), which includes requirements to consult with people who may be affected by our activities.
 
During 2019 we reviewed and strengthened the group-wide environmental and social requirements that support the OMS. These new group-level requirements now apply to operations as well as projects. They cover relevant aspects of environmental and social practices, mandate carbon management plans for all operations above a threshold, and require closer engagement with local communities.

100%

of our major operating sites required to attest or certify to ISO 14001

Project process

1: Planning

We complete a screening process to identify potential positive and adverse impacts, covering:

  • Biodiversity and protected areas
  • Freshwater
  • Air quality
  • Waste and wastewater
  • Local employment
  • Community health, safety and human rights
2: Design and construction

We use the results of ourscreening process to help usidentify:

  • Adverse impact and riskmitigation measures
  • Development opportunities
  • Actions during projectdevelopment, includingdetailed impact assessments
3: Operations

Every year, we carry outperformance reviews and agree local actions for any ‘issue’ areas. These could include:

  • Noise and odour
  • Flaring
  • Air emissions
  • Water use
4: Decommissioning

We take environmental factors into account when we decommission our projects, focusing on:

  • Ways to reuse materials
  • Appropriate disposal
  • Remediation of sites to their original state before bp arrived

Decommissioning 

We take environmental factors into account when we decommission or close down a site, paying particular attention to how we can reuse, recycle or appropriately dispose of materials.

 
We announced our agreement to divest our assets in Alaska in 2019 but will continue to be involved in decommissioning the Trans-Alaska Pipeline System. In the area of the North Sea where we operated North West Hutton until 2009, our marine analysis has shown colonization by cold-water coral on the seabed since decommissioning that contains species found in natural cold-water coral reefs.
 
We see waste from decommissioning as an opportunity to reuse and recycle materials back into the production system rather than sending them to landfill. Of the steel taken from four tanks at a former refinery on the Isle of Grain in the UK when they were demolished in 2019, 99% was recycled. Similarly high recycling rates for other platforms were achieved, including the removal of the Miller platform in 2018. This involved moving 40,000 tonnes of material, mainly steel, onshore where 97% of all materials are set to be reused or recycled.

Sensitive areas and biodiversity 

We support international efforts to rapidly halt the decline in biodiversity and recognize the need to conserve sensitive areas that house our planet’s rich natural and cultural heritage.

 

Read more about biodiversity at bp

Major operating sites in or near international protected areas

Water 

Water is a precious natural resource but also a valuable commodity. This is why we actively manage and monitor our water use and take steps to use it more sparingly and sustainably. We actively manage our freshwater demands in areas of stress and scarcity. Based on analysis using the World Resources Institute Aqueduct Global Water Risk Atlas, in 2019 four of our 26 major operating sites were located in regions with high or extremely high water stress, with another four located in areas of medium to high water stress.

 

We review water risks every year, taking into account availability, quantity, quality and regulatory requirements. We also use a range of tools, including the Global Environmental Management Initiative Local Water Tool and the World Resources Institute Aqueduct Global Water Risk Atlas.

4%

of our total freshwater withdrawal was from regions of high or extremely high water stress

Water use

Freshwater use 2016 2017 2018 2019
Freshwater withdrawal 256.5 275.5 271.0 281.2
Freshwater consumption 1.0 1.1 1.0 1.0
Wastewater 87.4 90.5 88.2 91.1
Produced water 0.3 0.3 0.3 0.3
Freshwater returned to environment (%) 34 33 33 32
Quality of treated water discharges 2016 2017 2018 2019
Oil discharge to sea water (mg/l) 19 13 32 28
Chemical oxygen demand (COD) of water discharged to freshwater environment (mg/l) 49 41 44 45

Air emissions 

We understand that people around the world are increasingly concerned about air quality and its impact on public health. We monitor our air emissions and put measures in place to reduce the potential impact of our activities on local communities.

 

In our unconventional gas operations in the US, we reduce sulphur dioxide emissions by using lower sulphur fuels in our drilling rig engines and hydraulic stimulation equipment. In 2019, we took delivery of the last three vessels in our new fleet of six liquefied natural gas (LNG) carriers. These use around 25% less fuel and emit less nitrogen oxides than the older LNG carriers in the bp-operated fleet.

Waste 

Our waste includes oil-derived substances, inorganic chemicals, steel, office paper and many other materials. Some waste streams are non-hazardous and others potentially harmful, so we use a wide range of technologies to treat and manage them effectively. In terms of decommissioning our operations, a very high proportion of materials are reused or recycled, often in other industries. On a day-to-day basis we manage waste generated from operations, maintenance service and obsolete stock with a clear focus to try reducing waste production at source.

Waste

Climate change adaptation 

Severe weather events and climate-related impacts, such as floods or rising sea levels, could pose risks to the local environment, surrounding communities and the continuity of our operations.

 
We’re working to improve our understanding of the severe weather risks we face. We’ve reviewed the way they’re documented across bp, with the intention to develop an appropriately standardized approach. We track relevant external risk indices and academic advances in climate and severe weather science and modelling, while also maintaining modelling capability and the relevant tools to help us meet critical business needs.

 
We’ve already carried out severe weather risk assessments at a number of our assets and have prioritized additional assets for assessment across our Upstream, Downstream and Alternative Energy businesses.
 
We actively participate in relevant industry forums and initiatives, including development of the IOGP Recommended Practice document on assessing severe weather and climate change, and the IPIECA Adaptation and Resiliency taskforce.

Hydraulic fracturing 

We recognize how important it is to reassure local communities that we’re effectively managing the environmental impacts of our unconventional oil and gas operations, including water contamination, chemicals use and the hydraulic fracturing process.

 
With the acquisition of BHP’s American shale assets into BPX Energy, we’ve significantly upgraded our US onshore gas portfolio. We take action to minimize the environmental impacts associated with our operations. We design, operate and decommission our wells in ways that reduce water contamination. For example, we install multiple layers of steel into each well and protect freshwater aquifers with cement barriers. These are all tested before any hydraulic fracturing.
 
To reduce friction and bacterial growth, chemicals are added to the water and sand mixture that makes up 99.5% of the injection materials we use. We publish details of all these chemicals, although their formulas are owned by our suppliers.
 
The hydraulic fracturing process creates very small earth tremors. These are rarely felt at the surface and before we start work, we assess their likelihood. For example, we try to identify natural faults in rock formations, which enables us to mitigate the risk of tremors through the way we design operations.