A systematic quality assessment of Environmental Impact Statements in the oil & gas industry

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Authors

  • Babatunde Anifowose
  • Damian Lawler
  • Dan van der Horst
  • Lee Chapman

Colleges, School and Institutes

External organisations

  • Coventry Univ
  • School of GeoSciences, University of Edinburgh, Edinburgh

Abstract

The global economy relies heavily on oil and gas resources. However, hydrocarbon exploitation projects can cause significant impacts on the environment. But despite the production of numerous Environmental Impact Statements (EISs) to identify/mitigate such impacts, no study has specifically assessed the quality of EISs for both onshore and offshore oil and gas projects, with tested hypotheses. To address this research gap, our paper, for the first time, develops a modified Lee and Colley evaluation model to assess the quality of 19 sampled oil and gas project EISs produced from 1998 to 2008 in Nigeria. Our findings show that Project Description and Communication of Results are the main areas of strength. However, Environmental Impact Prediction, and Project Decommissioning, were among the key areas requiring attention. A key finding, though, is that Mann-Whitney tests suggest that there is no evidence that the quality of EISs for the latter period (2004–2008) is higher than that of the earlier period (1998–2004). We suggest that periodic systematic review of the quality of submitted/approved EISs (c. every 3–5 years) should be established to monitor trends in EIS quality and identify strong and weak areas. This would help to drive continual improvement in both the EIA processes and the resultant EISs of technical engineering projects. Such reviews have the potential to illuminate some of the underlying problems of, and solutions to, oil and gas exploration, production and transportation, and their related environmental impacts. This suggested change would also be useful internationally, including for the burgeoning exploration and production of unconventional hydrocarbon resources.

Details

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)570–585
JournalScience of the Total Environment
Volume572
Early online date24 Aug 2016
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2016