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UK upstream industry environment report shows broadly reduced emissions in 2018

24 July 2019

Oil and Gas UK’s 2019 Environment Report was published on July 24, stating that the offshore sector had delivered a “stable” environmental performance on production levels up 4% on 2017 and an overall 20% increase between 2014 and 2018.

The report, which analyses and interprets data gathered and monitored by the Offshore Petroleum Regulator for Environment and Decommissioning (OPRED), considers performance across a range of areas including emissions to atmosphere, chemical discharge, waste disposal and produced water, to the end of 2018.
Key findings of the report include:
• There was a 4% increase in oil and gas production compared with 2017
• 14.63 million tonnes of CO2e (CO2 equivalent) were emitted, maintaining a stable level of total emissions over the past five years
• 74% CO2 emissions were from power generation
• Upstream oil and gas operations contributed 3% of total UK greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions
• UKCS carbon intensity (CO2 emitted per unit of production) decreased from 23 kt/million boe to 21 kt/million
• Methane emissions increased by 800 tonnes compared to 2017 – contributing 1.22 million tonnes CO2e
• 1.2 million tonnes of gas were flared (3.5 million CO2e), a 7% decrease on 2017
• Produced water discharged to sea fell by 3% from 143 million m3 to 139 million m3 over the past five years
• The volume of produced water reinjected increased 11% to 60 million m3
• Concentrations of dispersed oil in produced water discharged remains below the 30mg/l limit, at 16.1mg/l
• 167 tonnes of chemicals were discharged to sea per million boe produced
• 73% chemicals discharged were in the lowest PLONOR risk category
• 21,450 tonnes of drill cuttings were discharged to sea in 2018, a decrease from 2017
• There were 293 accidental oil releases, totalling 14 tonnes. This is the lowest annual total since 2011
• Average mass of oil released per occurrence was 0.05 tonnes
• There were 187 accidental releases of chemicals, totalling nearly 470 tonnes.
• The largest single release of 247 tonnes of low-hazard hydraulic fluid accounted for over half of the total
• 95% of the mass of chemicals released were of PLONOR or low hazard chemicals, and less than 1 kg of the highest hazard chemicals were released

Total production was around 619 million barrels of oil equivalent (boe), representing a fourth year of increasing production. This reversal of fourteen years of decline means that the basin now meets 59% of UK oil and gas demand.

Throughout 2018 production efficiency remained at 74%, the highest level for a decade, with improvements made in 2017 adding an additional 12 million boe to basin-wide production.
Commenting on the report findings, Louise O’Hara Murray, OGUK’s environment manager, said:
“The UK Continental Shelf is a mature and complex basin, and our report analysis shows that in 2018 we are delivering a stabilised environmental performance alongside increasing levels of production.
“Operators are making changes to processes and equipment offshore to continually improve efficiency and emissions performance. Alongside this, OGUK is actively working with its members to understand solutions to meet our commitment to the UK's net-zero ambition by 2050 and the expectations of society whilst maintaining sovereignty of supply.
“We need a diverse energy mix in the transition to a net-zero future to maintain our security of supply. The forecast demand for oil and gas in the UK in 2050 will exceed current estimates of supply from the UK Continental Shelf, and maintaining energy sovereignty means avoiding premature cessation to UKCS production and displacement of production to other basins.
 “As a major hazard and heavily regulated industry, continued engagement with the regulator, government and the sector is key in supporting efforts to reduce environmental risk and ensure continued safe operations.
“With that in mind, this annual report provides an opportunity for us to review environmental performance, reflect on the compliant practices and focus on areas where there are opportunities to drive further improvements.”

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