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There is growing pressure on water resources in many parts of the world due to both local and global factors.  Water quality and quantity is of global environmental concern and this both represents risks and opportunities for the industry.  Water is used throughout the project life-cycle of oil and gas activities and is core to business continuity.  Through a combination of practical tools, good practices and a forum for sharing industry knowledge, IPIECA enables the oil and gas industry to proactively identify potential water risks and to manage water issues.  

Water management principles

IPIECA has outlined some key guiding principles relevant for water management across the life-cycle of oil and gas operations. These principles are embedded in the good practices guidance documents that are developed.

  • Water stewardship

    Water Stewardship is one of the key principles that underpin good practice in water management. It conveys the idea of going beyond simply managing risks and impacts from water use. Water Stewardship is the use of water that is socially equitable, environmentally sustainable and economically beneficial, achieved through a stakeholder-inclusive process (Alliance for Water Stewardship (AWS), 2014).  Four aspects (derived from AWS, 2014) capture the intent of water stewardship:

    • Water governance;
    • Sustainable water balance;
    • Water quality; and
    • Important water-related areas.
  • Integrated Water Resource Management

    Through a combination of practical tools, good practices and a forum for sharing industry knowledge, IPIECA helps the oil and gas industry to proactively identify potential water risks and collectively manage water issues.

    IPIECA’s activities to promote responsible water stewardship include:

    • working to increase awareness of global and local water risk;
    • developing good practice for water management along the project life cycle;
    • promoting greater consistency in water reporting; and
    • providing a platform to communicate the oil and gas industry’s achievements, goals and progress.
  • Stakeholder engagement

    In all except the most remote locations, human activity will already be using, and dependent on, local water resources to some extent.   Recognition of these stakeholders together with cultural values that may be assigned to water, and involving them in the development process can be crucial to project success.  Inclusivity is a key principle underlying stakeholder engagement.  Where appropriate, stakeholders that may be affected by the project should be identified and engaged with as early as possible.

  • Risk assessment

    There will always be risks associated with water use on a project, be they financial, environmental or social.  These should be identified during the early stages of the project and assessed on an on-going basis bearing in mind that as a project evolves, so its associated risks may change. 

  • Continuous improvement

    Management of water should involve a continuous cyclical process of improvement throughout the life of oil and gas operations.  Typically, a greater level of detail is provided during each of the planning and design phases until water source selection is complete.

Water risk assessment and good practice

Identifying and assessing water risks throughout the life cycle of oil and gas activities is an essential component of a company’s water strategy, particularly as projects can last decades. IPIECA has developed two tools to aid in this process.

Global Water Tool (GWT)

The IPIECA Global Water Tool for Oil and Gas is a customized version of the free and easy-to-use World Business Council for Sustainable Development (WBCSD) Global Water Tool. The tool helps oil and gas companies map their water use and assess risks for their overall global portfolio of sites considering each part of the oil and gas value chain.

Local Water Tool (LWT)

The GEMI LWT™ for Oil and Gas helps to evaluate the high risk locations and identify actions to manage the risks. An option is provided in the GEMI tools to enable the user to transfer specific site data from the WBCSD or IPIECA tool.

The IPIECA Global Water Tool and the GEMI LWT can be used together to enable companies to map their water use and assess risks for their overall global portfolio by identifying and prioritising high risk sites and also help identify the external impacts, business risks, and opportunities related to water use and discharge at specific sites or operations.

E-learning training course

IPIECA’s e-learning course guides oil and gas professionals through the tools - how they work and how to apply them to business.

Once water risks have been identified they need to be managed.  Throughout the life-cycle of oil and gas activities water is used and produced, IPIECA recognises the importance of managing water effectively and maintaining business continuity as well as license to operate. 

IPIECA has developed a set of good practice guidance documents to promote responsible and effective water management throughout the life-cycle of oil and gas activities and continues to build on the set of guiding principles. This includes guidance on water sourcing as well as water efficiency and use.

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