Working responsibly

Climate change, emissions and discharges

Our approach to climate change

Our oil and gas exploration and production activities are carbon-intensive and our approach to climate change continues to include:

  • GHGs measuring and reporting;
  • further consideration of climate change risks and opportunities associated with all our projects;
  • promoting efficient use of energy in our activities and, wherever possible, including efficient and timely completion of projects;
  • integrating climate change considerations and potential costs into investment decisions;
  • stakeholder engagement; for example, through participating in industry associations, on mitigation and adaptation to climate change measures; and
  • contribution to local programmes that address environmental and social impacts within our sphere of control and reasonable influence.

See also our Climate change review.

Our GHG emissions

Greenhouse gases (GHGs) form a part of our operational environmental footprint. We monitor and manage the GHGs emitted during our activities and disclose them in accordance with industry requirements and standards. In 2016, we conducted a thorough review of the methods and factors used in the calculation of our GHG emissions, and corrections were made in line with best practice.

We disclose on an ‘operational control’ basis, which means we report emissions from those assets that are operated by us and not those controlled by our partners. With no operated production facilities in 2016, our direct GHG emissions occurred primarily from the combustion of fuel on the rig, vessels and aviation, and from flaring during testing, in relation to the completion of the second phase of the appraisal and exploration programme in Senegal.

Our GHG emissions over five years show that they are heavily dependent on the level of operational activity in any given period. Our emissions levels in absolute terms vary with the length of operations and operational requirements, which are often also influenced by safety considerations (e.g. vessel or rig selection to meet specific operational requirements).

The varying levels of operational activity make it very difficult to identify a baseline and set targets for total GHG reduction over time.

Our GHG emissions intensity is calculated per thousand hours worked, as this provides a direct relationship with our activity. Factors such as the nature of the work in hand (i.e. drilling or seismic survey), environmental conditions and distances between operations and logistic support bases have further significant influences on the intensity of GHG emissions. We strive to reduce the footprint of our activities by operating efficiently and quickly but not to the detriment of safety.

The quantity of GHG emissions from our activities reduced in 2016 from 2015, despite an increase in hours worked. Consequently, GHG intensity per thousand hours worked has improved substantially.

RPS was appointed to provide independent verification of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions reported in the Annual Report and Accounts 2016 and this CR Report.

Emissions, discharges and waste performance

In March 2016, we completed the second phase of our exploration and appraisal programme in Senegal and commenced planning for the third phase, which started in 2017. As such, our operations in 2016 were relatively limited in terms of emissions, discharges and wastes. We expect emissions, discharges and wastes to be broadly similar to 2016 based on an anticipated programme of two firm wells in 2017. However, the third phase programme includes a number of optional wells, which, if executed, would increase our emissions, discharges and waste profile. It remains difficult to set specific reduction targets when levels of activity vary from year to year, but we are committed to minimising our environmental impact from operations and to reporting fully and transparently on this matter.

At the end of the second phase of the exploration and appraisal campaign in Senegal, unanticipated residual wastes from the drill rig tanks required specific treatment as hazardous waste in accordance with EU classification. We achieved successful treatment by filter press and dry residues were packaged and sent ashore, prior to onward shipment to Spain under the Basel Convention due to the absence of suitable waste management sites in Senegal.

The majority of Cairn’s waste is produced by contractors, so our priority for 2016 was to ensure our Waste Management Plan was followed and remains robust while planning for the 2017 programme.

In 2016, we generated 245 tonnes hazardous and 381 tonnes non-hazardous waste. 40% of our total waste was recycled or reused (see performance data Discharges).

Total absolute and normalised GHG emissions (Scopes 1, 2 and 3)

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See performance data Climate change and emissions.

Oil discharges

We experienced four minor spills of hydrocarbon in 2016, which arose from 'flare-out' incidents during well testing in the phase two drilling programme in Senegal. These arose as a consequence of ineffective rig orientation to the prevailing weather, seawater salting of the flare nozzle and setting the water deluge too high. These issues were addressed early in the campaign and no further problems occurred. A total of 167 litres were spilled to sea, however, the oil dispersed and evaporated rapidly and was considered to have a low environmental impact. All escapes were reported to the authorities.

See also Emissions, discharges and waste management.

Objectives 2017

  • Continue to track risk arising from climate change treaties and legislation
  • We will review our greenhouse gas (GHG) monitoring and accounting preparedness

Strategic objectives

  • Maintain licence to operate

Principal risks

  • Health, safety, environmental and security incidents
  • Operational and project performance
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