Our Protect Tomorrow. Today. initiative guides our management processes to continuously improve environmental performance. Our business operations continue to drive enhancements in environmental performance by incorporating Environmental Business Planning into the annual business planning cycle.
Assessing our surroundings
Our business spans the globe, and no two operating environments are the same. Our approach to environmental protection begins with a thorough understanding of local environmental and socioeconomic surroundings. This understanding is critical to superior performance.
For new Upstream projects, we conduct risk-based Environmental, Socioeconomic and Health Impact Assessments (ESHIAs) to identify community concerns, environmental aspects and social and economic conditions. We then apply an “avoid, reduce, remedy” strategy to address potential risks. Our goal is to manage risks to the lowest level practical. This hierarchical mitigation approach ensures that we first consider modifying aspects of a project’s design or execution plan to avoid an impact.
The ExxonMobil Environmental Aspects Guide provides guidance for identifying, evaluating and assessing potential risks for various environmental aspects (defined as “elements”). We then analyze potential risks for avoidance and reduction options, and consider practical alternatives early in the project design phase. When we applied this iterative approach during the drilling program associated with our Point Thomson project in Alaska, it led to the identification of a new environmental aspect: several polar bear dens were found near a project ice road. To avoid these dens, we re-routed the road and maintained active monitoring. Local environmental regulatory agencies have recognized this initiative.
Designing our facilities
Wherever we operate, we follow local environmental regulations. In places where regulations are not fully developed or implemented, we operate to standards that are protective of the environment.
Our ExxonMobil Capital Projects Management System (EMCAPS) provides a framework to guide project development and execution. EMCAPS facilitates the consideration of environmental concerns and regulatory requirements early in the project design and implementation process. We continue to develop Project Environmental Standards for each of our business lines. The standards focus on the most common types of environmental and socioeconomic impacts associated with the oil and gas industry. As a part of the process, we studied existing and proposed regulations of a number of countries, as well as the environmental guidelines established by several international organizations, including the World Health Organization. These standards, which apply to new projects, can constitute an additional layer of protection beyond host country regulatory requirements and help ensure that we operate in an environmentally and socially responsible manner.
To date, we have developed standards in the areas of air emissions; flaring and venting reduction; energy efficiency; marine geophysical operations; socioeconomic management; water management; drill cuttings discharge; land use and waste management. We assess our facilities every three to five years using our Environmental Aspect Assessment to verify that our standards are being implemented and to facilitate continuous improvement.