Promoting sustainability has been a goal for SPE for nearly 10 years. Johana Dunlop, SPE’s technical director for health, safety, and environment, is leading an effort to turn that aspiration into action. This will require defining ways to address the many environmental and social goals of external stakeholders in ways that allow the industry to deliver energy efficiently.
The effort this year supports SPE President Sami Alnuaim’s commitment to make sustainability a top priority during his term. “It is an area where SPE can help the industry accelerate its integration of sustainability factors into how we run our businesses,” Dunlop said.
Operating businesses on the basis of sustainable principles “leads to efficiencies and provides access to innovation, be it technical or even new business models such as circular economy models” that maximize reuse, she said.
Sustainability standards will change over time. “What was accepted practice 20 years ago is no longer accepted,” Dunlop said. And this requires looking at the bigger picture. “We must take less of a company-centric world view and more of a society-centric world view of which our industry is a vital part,” she said. SPE is uniquely positioned to bridge those differing points of view.
To define what needs to be included, experts from inside and outside oil and gas will gather to consider practical ways to adapt widely used general sustainable-development standards to exploration and production.
The UN Sustainable Development Goals provide an effective operational framework for the effort, Dunlop said. IPIECA, an oil industry organization focused on social and environmental goals, has mapped ideas for applying sustainable-development goals in oil. The goal is to provide an outline for more detailed industry efforts to integrate sustainable practices into successful, safe operating guidelines.
SPE recently signed memorandums of understanding with IPIECA and the International Association of Oil and Gas Producers that will facilitate collaboration on sustainability and other issues.
Dunlop and her team of volunteers also are working to honor those who lead by setting an ambitious example in oil and gas. “Recognition is a key part of the puzzle,” said Dunlop, who said she is “mystified” by the lack of recognition from outsiders who do not see the positive effects oil has had on social and economic development.
“President Sami Alnuaim’s initiative launching the first technical award to SPE members whose contributions in the field of sustainable development have been extraordinary is a welcome step in the direction of balancing pride with accountability.”
Stewardship in the Oil and Gas Industry Award
This award, to be presented for the first time in 2019, recognizes the outstanding efforts in the upstream oil and gas industry in promoting and adopting the concepts of sustainable development. The award will encompass:
Environmental stewardship. Reporting on the industry’s adherence to best-in-class environmental standards and practices and the positive impact of such implementation. This can include most of the effort currently made by the oil and gas industry to protect the environment such as zero-flare strategy, oil-to-gas in power generation, energy efficiency, carbon capture, carbon sequestration, methane leak detection, and the use of renewables in the upstream oil and gas industry.
Quantifying economic/social impacts. Quantifying the direct and indirect impact of the upstream oil and gas industry on the global economy, human life style, and social life. This should include the data capture, quantification, tracking, and reporting in underdeveloped, developing, and developed countries.
Developing metrics. Meeting the needs of stakeholders in the upstream oil and gas industry by development of sustainable development metrics that provide fit-for-decision content for internal stakeholders to better integrate sustainability factors in their business performance.
Developing policies/best practices. Policies and best practices that cover the upstream oil and gas life cycle, environment, safety, and security including introducing new policies regarding best-in-class environmental practices, low emission policies, and incentives.
Innovation and technology. Examples that engage SPE members and excite them to brainstorm about new business models, second-life applications of oil and gas infrastructure, technologies to optimize and extend the life of oil and gas, understanding the subsurface, methane emissions management, etc.
Technology advances. Upstream technology breakthroughs that promote sustainability, the environment, and public quality of life.
Sustainable stewardship. Examples of breakthrough upstream oil and gas industry technologies and techniques that improve the quality of the environment.
Linking operations to sustainable development goals. Actions to promote upstream oil and gas operations that result in a sustainable climate, a robust global economy, and quality human life style and social life, as inspired by the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals.
If you know an SPE member or team that merits recognition in one or more of these areas, submit a nomination. See https://www.spe.org/awards/ for more information.
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