Task Force Updates Guide Presenting Best Practices in Environmental Management

The complete paper describes the development of, and summarizes the major changes and additions to, the Environmental Management in the Oil and Gas Industry guide.

Environmental management approach by activity type and phase

Environmental Management in the Oil and Gas Industry was first published in 1997 by the E&P Forum [the predecessor of the International Association of Oil and Gas Producers (IOGP)] and the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) as a guide to best practices in environmental management throughout the lifecycle of upstream oil and gas projects. Since then, the industry has made substantial changes in environmental risk management and mitigation. IOGP’s Environmental Committee determined in 2016 that a revision of the publication (also known as IOGP 254) was required. The complete paper describes the development of, and summarizes the major changes and additions to, the guide’s content.

The Requirement

Following its creation by the IOGP Environmental Committee, the first action of the IOGP 254 task force to develop the second edition was the drafting of a statement of requirement. The new edition had to meet the 10 following criteria:

  • Be freely available, through IOGP and IPIECA, in a coherent and accessible format; be technically credible; and be valuable for the intended audience
  • Promote and facilitate effective and responsible management of the environmental risks within the industry’s scope of responsibility
  • Recognize and reflect the substantial change in stakeholder expectations for the industry’s management of environmental impact since the publication of the first edition
  • Be a guide, not a textbook
  • Incorporate other publications by reference and not include or repeat their content
  • Encompass a scope limited to the upstream oil and gas industry
  • Attempt to meet the needs of a diverse audience including industry, consultants, nongovernmental organization (NGOs), financiers, and governments
  • Incorporate the views of a diverse set of owners of the publication, including industry, NGOs, and the UN
  • Reflect and address the substantial changes in environmental management since the publication of the first edition
  • Recognize the importance of, and reference but not incorporate, tools for the management of health or social aspects and of the industry

IOGP 254 Second Edition

The team that worked on the development of the new edition included staff members from the secretariats of the IOGP, IPIECA, and UNEP; volunteers from oil and gas companies (from IPIECA and IOGP membership); and specialist consultants and contractors. The first actions were to arrange and facilitate workshops that reviewed the structure and content of the original edition and identify what aspects of environmental management had changed, what content was still relevant, and what new content needed to be developed. Boundaries between environmental management and social and health management (determined to be out of scope of the publication) also needed to be identified and agreed upon. A decision to refer to, but not incorporate, content from published IPIECA and IOGP documents was also made. With this framework agreed upon, a process of sequential drafting, peer and team review, and redrafting commenced, with specialist consultants and team members contributing to the process. Once a substantial draft of each chapter was available, work began on the alignment of positions of the organizations (IOGP, IPIECA, UNEP). The revised publication is arranged into five chapters.

Oil and Gas in the 21st Century. In the introductory chapter, major changes to the publication are identified. These reflect the developments in practices and processes used for the management of environmental aspects of the industry and include the following:

  • The introduction of a new partner, IPIECA, the global oil and gas industry association for environmental and social issues
  • An examination of the current and future role of oil and gas, together with other energy sources, to meet global energy demand and the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)
  • Changes and developments in environmental management approaches to align with IOGP’s Operating Management System framework and other established standards and explanation of roles and interfaces between oil and gas companies and national governments
  • Processes for identification and mitigation of environmental impact
  • Changes to the regulatory frameworks within which the oil and gas industry operates
  • Expectations regarding effective national regulatory frameworks; changes to regional, multilateral, and international frameworks; and expectations of international financing institutions

The second major change to IOGP 254 is related to the introduction in 2015 of the SDGs and the significance of these goals to the industry. IOGP 254 has been revised to recognize the importance of the SDGs and emphasize how the industry can contribute to their implementation, notably in the domains of

  • Affordable and reliable energy (SDG 7)
  • Climate action and life on land and in water (SDGs 13, 14, and 15)
  • Economic development and innovation (SDGs 8 and 9)
  • Responsible resource production and consumption (SDG 12)
  • Health and access to clean water (SDGs 3 and 6)

Overview of the Upstream Oil and Gas Industry. Recognizing that the intended audience for the publication includes those who may have little or no prior experience with the industry, the task force felt it important that industrial and technical context be provided. Chapter 2 provides a brief introduction to the ­geological and operational aspects of the industry, such as

  • Recovery techniques
  • Exploration techniques, including seismic surveying
  • Drilling operations and techniques
  • Construction, installation, and commissioning of production facilities onshore and offshore
  • Oil and gas production and processing upstream
  • Decommissioning of production facilities onshore and offshore

Fig. 1 provides the reader with a summary of the relationship between these dimensions of the industry and the timelines of different phases in the exploration and production life cycle.

Fig. 1—Phases of the oil and gas exploration and production life cycle and associated activities.

Environmental Risk Management. The environmental management process used in the second edition is a risk-based approach to the identification, management, and mitigation of environmental effects of the industry. Chapter 3 introduces and describes the concepts and methodologies essential to this approach. Of note in this new edition is guidance regarding the relationship that the industry has with regulators and governmental agencies and the associated interfaces. This chapter also provides guidance on the development of environmental management systems, as well as references to other IOGP, IPIECA, and third-party publications that provide ­additional detail on these topics.

Environmental Aspects of Offshore and Onshore Oil and Gas Activity. Chapter 4 provides an overview of almost 50 environmental aspects of offshore and onshore activity. The description of each aspect is accompanied by environmental mitigation and management measures.

The mitigation measures identified in this chapter for a range of upstream oil and gas activities presume that the mitigation-hierarchy process described in Chapter 3 has been considered and applied wherever possible. The authors note that these discussions are not exhaustive and do not apply to all circumstances. Instead, the information reflects frequent interactions between oil and gas activity and the identified aspects.

Regulatory Requirements. This chapter describes the regulatory setting pertinent to the upstream industry from the point of view of both regulators and companies. In addition to complying with applicable national legislation, oil and gas companies usually are required to obtain a variety of approvals from regulatory authorities. Many countries have multiple responsible agencies at multiple levels, and sometimes agencies have overlapping jurisdiction. This chapter provides discussion of

  • National frameworks for environmental regulatory systems and associated principles
  • Regional and multilateral environmental frameworks
  • International environmental frameworks
  • The role of international and multilateral finance institutions in providing de facto environmental standards


The second edition of IOGP 254 is available for free from IOGP and IPIECA. The participating organizations believe that this updated version will continue to be a valuable and useful tool for all stakeholders in the industry. In deciding to incorporate other IPIECA and IOGP publications by reference, the authors hope that, as industry practice continues to develop, the publication will serve as a guide to these evolving best-practice and reference documents.

This article, written by JPT Technology Editor Chris Carpenter, contains highlights of paper SPE 199456, “Environmental Management in the Oil and Gas Industry, Second Edition—A Guide to Environmental Management Good Practices in the Upstream Oil and Gas Industry,” by Wendy Brown, IOGP, Artemis Kostareli, IPIECA, and Ian Sealy, SPE, Schlumberger, prepared for the 2020 SPE International Conference and Exhibition on Health, Safety, Environment, and Sustainability, originally scheduled to be held in Bogota, Colombia, 28–30 July. The paper has not been peer reviewed.