In terms of environmental protection, the Group’s objective is to preserve the areas that may be impacted by its activities and to raise awareness among local communities of environmental issues. Each subsidiary implements an environmental management programme aimed at identifying, preventing and mitigating environmental risks.
The management of environmental issues is embedded in the HSE departments of the Group’s subsidiaries. It is the subject of regular reporting to the highest echelons of the company. In Gabon, there is an environment department that is separate from all other functions.
Prevention of environmental and pollution risks
Every project is initially based on a preliminary risk study that leads to the definition of an environmental action plan approved by the competent authorities. Adequate financial, human and technical resources are then made available to apply it. The implementation of these management plans is subject to regular internal and external audits by the competent authorities.
Impact studies are carried out in accordance with local regulations, before the project and then throughout the project. In order to identify, assess and prevent risks, the Group relies on internal expertise and on independent experts recommended by the local authorities.
If the site is located in a national or marine park, every project is discussed with the park administrators.
Once these risk studies have been completed, the Group deploys the following action plans:
- upstream, to combat soil degradation, the deterioration of water tables or sludge seeping into farmland and rivers, the Group asks civil engineering contractors and services to consolidate landscaping work along roads and at site platforms. Weaker areas are stabilised by putting in plant cover (replanting by hydroseeding); and
- downstream, sites are preserved by restoring deforested areas and by the sorting and controlled destruction of waste.
Sustainable use of resources
No Group sites are involved in water-use disputes.
The water produced by the Group, which is water mixed with reservoir oil or brine, is separated, treated and reinjected into the geological formation.
Freshwater extractions are for domestic needs (human consumption for life’s essentials) and industrial needs (making concrete for construction, civil engineering and maintenance, making mud during drilling, and cooling systems for facilities).
In Gabon, the majority of the underground and surface freshwater extracted for sanitation or industrial (drilling) purposes is then reinjected or treated and released into the natural environment.
In Tanzania, freshwater consumption is limited to bottled drinking water (the camp water is desalinated).
It is standard practice to “flare” (burn off) excess gas to ensure the safety of the facility. The quantity of gas flared can also depend on whether or not processes for reinjecting gas and infrastructures for processing gas have been put in place, whether the gas is used internally at the facility, whether the hydrocarbons extracted are sold commercially or even the type of hydrocarbon extracted. Flared gas is clearly a non-value-adding resource and a source of pollution. In recent years, the sector has made progress in reducing the volumes of gas flared and the associated greenhouse gas emissions.
In the Group, gas flaring is limited. In Tanzania, the subsidiary does not flare gas. In Gabon, the Onal wells have a low gas/oil ratio (GOR). The GOR represents the amount of gas dissolved in the oil; the lower the ratio, the less gas is present and the lower the volume of gas flared, relatively speaking.
The land footprint of seismic surveys and exploration activities is very limited over time. When operations cease and the land is surrendered, the Group works to return it to its original state by involving local populations in the restoration process (choice of varieties to be replanted, for example). The effects of its production activities are felt over a longer period. The Group strives to minimise its footprint by reconstituting slopes, seeding embankments and the differences in levels created by the activity and that may cause water run-off and landslides.