Managing our environmental impact

Being a large offshore oil and gas operator and a growing offshore wind power provider, preserving biodiversity and sensitive areas in the marine environment are of particular importance. In this respect, significant environmental aspects to manage include discharges of produced and processed water to sea, spills, drilling waste, use of areas and emissions of sound from our operations.
 

Additional important environmental aspects include NOx emissions from power and heat generation at many installations, plants and drilling rigs and SOx emissions from our refineries, drilling rigs and some of our offshore installations. 

Our environmental management approach

We aim to diligently manage risks and impacts to the environment from our activities through:

  • Environmental risk and impact assessments in planning phases
  • Environmental baseline studies, surveys and monitoring programmes
  • Collaborative research projects to build knowledge
  • Take measures aiming at avoiding, minimizing, mitigating or offsetting negative effects

We regularly assess our performance through reviews and assurance activities and set actions to improve when needed. Our environmental work is guided by our commitments to prevent harm to the environment, to apply the precautionary principle and to comply with all applicable environmental laws and regulations. 

If you want to know more about our environmental impact from our onshore activities in the US, you can find it here:

Our actions

Biodiversity, oceans and sensitive areas

In response to the growing concerns related to loss of biodiversity, we are further developing our management approach to biodiversity.

What we do - a short glimpse

Equinor has successfully piloted UN Environment World Conservation Monitoring Centre methodology on Sheringham Shoal Offshore Wind Farm and we continue to test the methodology for other assets.
 

An ocean observatory on the seabed off Vesterålen, northern Norway, was opened in 2020. This is an expanded version from what was installed there seven years ago.


 

As part of our continued effort to protect the critically endangered North Atlantic right whale, we have continued to monitor, in real-time, the presence of whales in the Empire Wind lease area in the US by use of two real-time passive acoustic buoys. 

Every year we map where we have operational assets and activities inside or near protected areas (PA) or areas of high biodiversity value (AHBV). For each facility and operational activity, we count every case where one or several PAs and AHBV are present in defined proximity zones (“Inside”, “< 1 km”, “1-5 km”, “5-20 km”). The outcome of this mapping and more information on what actions we take on biodiversity-related matters can be found in the Environment chapter of our Sustainability Report.

Working to minimize our impact

It is impossible to build and operate installations onshore and offshore without impacting the environment. But that is why we always have our environmental impact high on the agenda when developing and operating our assets. 

Our efforts to continuously improve our management of discharges of large volumes of produced and processed water to the sea continue. The main objective is to minimise the environmental impact from oil and chemicals contained in the discharged water. We continuously monitor discharges from each of our installations and onshore plants. 

Our approach to waste management follows the mitigation hierarchy and waste handling systems are set up in close collaboration with waste contractors, which also handle the downstream part of our waste chain. Drill cuttings and contaminated water constitute the largest volumes of waste from our activities.

Reductions of NOx emissions can be achieved through energy optimisation measures, fuel substitution or most significantly if hydrocarbon-fuelled power generation is replaced with renewable electric power. The electrification projects for the Gullfaks and Snorre fields through the offshore wind farm Hywind Tampen and the electrification of the Sleipner field with power from shore are good examples.

We use large volumes of freshwater in our onshore plants and operations. However, the availability of freshwater is abundant at all our locations, including for our US onshore operations where freshwater is sourced from rivers in areas that do not have high water stressed.

Collaborations and partnerships