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Article   |   Ian Thomas, Nick Low   |   23.05.2022

A multi-disciplinary approach to environmental consultancy in a changing world

The UK government North Sea Transition Authority (NSTA) intends to introduce a new Climate Compatibility Checkpoint before each future oil and gas licensing round to ensure licences awarded are aligned with national climate objectives.

It is expected that the Climate Compatibility Checkpoint shall enable the assessment of ongoing domestic need for oil and gas, while expecting concrete action from the sector on decarbonisation. If the evidence suggests that a future licensing round would undermine the UK’s climate goals or delivery of net-zero, it will not go ahead.

The NSTA Climate Compatibility Checkpoint builds on the North Sea Transition Deal which introduces annual targets for the sector to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from upstream oil and gas activities through supply decarbonisation. The North Sea Transition Deal sets out the joint government and industry sector’s commitment to achieving a 50% reduction in emissions by 2030, compared with a 2018 baseline (as well as milestone targets of 10% by 2025 and 25% by 2027). In the longer-term, it is proposed that the sector achieves 90% emissions reductions by 2040 and 100% reductions by 2050.

The expectation of the NSTA strategy is for the upstream oil and gas industry to reduce from all aspects of its upstream operations. This includes: the development of new hydrocarbon projects; existing producing assets; the abandonment and decommissioning of fields; and the progression of potential energy integration/net-zero solutions.

Clearly, achieving such objectives requires the input of a multi-disciplinary team of technical specialists to understand the complexities of a modern energy development. Typically, this would require operators to build coalitions and alliances to access the skills necessary to develop an energy management strategy capable of reducing emissions year on year. Such skills are likely to include subsea engineering, well engineering, logistics, asset integrity, environmental assessment and energy management which must be considered through all phases of a project life cycle covering project delivery, operations, late life and eventual decommissioning.

But is this multi-company approach the most efficient way forward in the midst of an energy transition? Ian Thomas and Nick Low explore how the complementary expertise of an established multi-disciplinary energy team can be the perfect fit for both energy operators and the environment, without compromising quality or financial requirements.

The basis for quantifying CO2 emissions on which to form a baseline for year on year emissions reduction is relatively straightforward: activity data x emission factor. However, the application of specific regulations and standards, when combined with differing emission factors from various fuels used and the complexities surrounding calculation boundaries, poses unique challenges to the quantification and reporting process.

Historically speaking, collecting, storing and analysing financial, operational and environmental performance data from energy assets such as wells or rigs has been the norm. However, for various reasons, data capture has been fragmented and disjointed to the extent that there are data gaps, multiple reporting of data sets, and or the certainty of the data cannot be relied upon.

Now, with the ability to make use of data already captured and monitored during the well delivery process or P&A decommissioning project, an experienced multidisciplinary team can apply data captured to optimise the economic performance of a campaign, or reliability of equipment to minimise the emission profile of a selected delivery plan covering scope, 1, 2 and 3 emissions. Scope 3 covers supply chain services such as vessels, MODUs, supply bases etc. However, making sense of this data can be a complex activity often involving the support multiple organisations each providing expertise on projects such as offshore oil and gas developments, CCUS, hydrogen and the more traditional renewable projects such as offshore windfarms.

A multi-disciplinary approach to emissions management within complex engineering projects provides a more comprehensive solution. It also adds a layer of accountability and traceability throughout project delivery, thereby improving overall effectiveness.

Yet, despite the importance of environmental permits and legislations, particularly in today’s more eco-aware society and the introduction of standards such as ISO 50001, to support energy management, and ISO 16530-1, to support well life cycle integrity, the full value of an integrated approach to emissions management is yet to be fully realised by many.

The principles embodied in Vysus Group's multi-disciplinary approach to emissions management can be applied across the full asset lifecycle and is just as applicable to the decommissioning of a well or production asset as it is to drilling for hydrocarbons, carbon, capture and storage and or for geothermal energy.

Building on the UK Government’s commitment for the UK to become the first G20 country to require mandatory climate-related financial disclosures, we are now pleased to add to our portfolio of services to offer clients the benefit of our AccountAbility AA1000 license. Being an AccountAbility AA1000AS licensed provider allows us to offer independent verification of non-financial disclosures and GHG emission statements to our clients. Regulations governing climate-related non-financial disclosures came into force on 6th April 2022, and shall be applicable for accounting periods starting on or after that date.

Being able to draw on our combined experience puts us in a prime position to provide a fully integrated, holistic approach that meets the exact specifications of our clients. Vysus Group was created by the sale of the Energy division of Lloyd’s Register and has grown by acquisition since 2005 to include Capstone, ODS, Human Engineering, Celerity3, ModuSpec, Scandpower, WEST Engineering and Senergy Wells to cover the full energy value chain and life cycle, from reservoir to refinery and beyond.

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