We are committed to preventing harm to the environment. We take a precautionary approach and work according to corporate requirements and risk-based local good practices to manage our environmental performance. We strive to adhere to high standards relevant for emissions to air and water, waste management and use of chemicals. This includes integrating environmental and social risk management into our planning and decision-making processes.
Operating in the marine environment
As one of the world’s largest offshore oil and gas operators, and a significant offshore wind provider, ocean sustainability is of great importance to Equinor. Throughout the history of the company we have developed and implemented technological solutions and operational practices in line with our aim to continuously improve our environmental performance. In 2018 we also took on the role as a patron of the UN Global Compact Action platform for sustainable ocean business.
In Norway, where we have the majority of our operations, an increasing number of our offshore fields have reached the decline phase in their producing life. Such fields typically require more chemicals and energy to uphold production due to an increasing share of water produced with the oil and gas. The produced water needs to be cleaned prior to discharge to sea, reinjection or disposal, as it contains dispersed oil, natural contaminants and chemicals. The main objective for proper management of produced water is to uphold very low levels of dispersed oil and keep the use of chemicals at low levels, as well as replacing some chemicals with more environmentally friendly substitutes.
In our US onshore shale operations, water sourcing and usage are accomplished through careful planning and coordination with landowners, regulatory agencies and local water authorities. The aim is to manage water responsibly during the life span of our activities. We assess water stress, where relevant. In our Bakken and Eagle Ford assets, the use of freshwater is minimised both through replacement by brackish water whenever possible and through the implementation of freshwater optimisation measures. Injection of CO2 along with water in well fracturing operations also provides an opportunity for reduced use of water. Fracking tests with use of CO2 have successfully been performed, and further applications of this technique are planned.
We are aware of stakeholders’ concerns regarding the use of chemicals in hydraulic fracturing processes in our shale activities. To promote transparency, we publicly disclose the chemicals used in our US onshore operations through FracFocus.
We closely monitor air emissions from all our assets. In addition to CO2 emissions, we also monitor emissions of methane, nitrogen oxide (NOx), sulphur oxide (SOx) and non-methane volatile organic compounds.
Using fewer resources to produce more makes sound business sense, especially in a world in which competition for natural resources is increasing. It is also imperative for strong environmental performance. Equinor is committed to using resources efficiently and reusing or recycling as appropriate. This reduces environmental impact and can also save costs. The sharper focus of investors on issues such as water, energy and land management reflect concerns about emerging costs, shortages and regulatory risks.
Building on a strong legacy of energy efficiency, also resulting in reduced CO2 emissions, we are now increasing our efforts on water management and fresh water consumption. As our operations in Norway, UK, Brazil and Denmark are either offshore or in areas of abundant fresh water supply, our focus is on US onshore operations, as described above.
We are concerned with valuing and protecting biodiversity and the ecosystem. We follow precautionary rules and regulations to minimise the potential negative effects of our activities. We also support research programmes to increase knowledge about ecosystems and biodiversity.
Equinor continues to be an active participant in a joint Biodiversity Working Group of IPIECA and the International Association of Oil and Gas Producers (IOGP). This cooperation has resulted in the development of specific tools and recommendations for industry best practice. We also support the maintenance and development of the World Database on Protected Areas and other GIS-based databases containing information on high-value biodiversity areas. We use these databases actively in environmental risk and impact evaluations.