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    UK industry renews strategy on sustainable development

    News // October 24, 2003
    The UK offshore oil and gas industry today has issued its updated strategy for sustainable development (SD) in a new document, Striking a Balance 2003. The original Striking a Balance, published in 2001, was one of the first SD strategies developed by aUK industry sector.

    The strategy sets the agenda for 29 oil and gas exploration and production companies currently operating on the UK Continental Shelf (UKCS) and is published by the industry trade body, the UK Offshore Operators' Association (UKOOA).

    It has been developed following extensive consultation with industry stakeholders, including input from a well attended dialogue session held in November 2002, the first ever to be held by the sector on its approach to sustainable development.

    The new document introduces the concept of the "sustainable development indicator wheel" which identifies the key economic, environmental and social issues that drive the industry's activities. It also indicates the degree of influence the industry can exercise in each case.

    At the wheel's core are issues that the sector can manage itself. The outer sections highlight broader issues where the industry has varying degrees of influence, but no control. Progress in these areas can only be achieved in partnership with others.

    Steve Harris, UKOOA's acting director general, said: "The wheel is the key tool for delivering the oil and gas industry's strategy for sustainable development. It highlights the issues the offshore oil and gas industry needs to address if it is to continue operating successfully in the UK. By acknowledging the degrees to which our industry can contribute to sustainable practices, the wheel helps the sector to develop specific policies and set clear short or long term goals. We will review these regularly and report on progress annually."

    The core issues - those which are central to the industry's future - combine responsibility for ensuring world class safety and environmental practices with the need to maintain workforce skills in a maturing business and maximise recovery of the UK's oil and gas reserves.

    Bruce Dingwall, chief executive of Venture Production plc and UKOOA president, said: "In two years the UK oil and gas industry has come a long way in its collective approach to sustainable development.

    "Some 90 per cent of the 63 economic, social and environmental commitments originally undertaken by the industry in 2001 are expected to be completed by the end of the 2001-2003 plan period.

    "Much has been achieved under the banner of PILOT, in partnership with our contractors, suppliers and the Government, to attract investment and prolong oil and gas production in the North Sea to secure jobs, revenues and energy supply for the UK. Internationally recognised environmental management systems are almost universally in place across the sector and the majority of UKCS assets are now covered by the UK emissions trading scheme.

    "The industry has also started work on a two year study with the Policy Studies Institute to develop a generic sustainable development methodology for assessing its impacts relating to decommissioning, energy use, oil in produced water and employment. However, we need to redouble our efforts to ensure the safety of our workforce, and improve certain aspects of our environmental performance."A safety target has been set to make the UKCS the safest place to work in the offshore industry worldwide by 2010, while environmental goals include a 30 per cent reduction in the number of oil spills from offshore installations by the end of 2003 and a15 per cent reduction in produced water discharges by 2006.The next stakeholder dialogue session is scheduled for 2004. A web-based progress report will be published in the summer.

    Striking a Balance 2003 is available on the UKOOA web site or call UKOOA on Tel: + 44 20 7802 2400.

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