Dream green awards for oil companies

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Saudi Aramco, the world’s largest oil and gas producer and most valuable company estimated at $10 trillion USD, pockets three of the six environmental awards during the 2014 Offshore Arabia Conference & Exhibition, in Dubai. Did we hear right?

The theme of the conference, Regional oil spill prevention and preparedness,  focused on the latest technological and methodological developments in the field of marine environmental protection from oil spills.

Alongside several presentations, the ‘Environmental Excellence Awards’ honored companies that have contributed towards “the protection, safety and betterment of the environment” and Saudi Aramco wins (through nominations) three environmental excellence awards. 

Aramco’s first award in “Excellence in environmental Technology”, is for its Manifa mega project (pictured above), a shallow offshore oil field development project which since 2006 has studied optimal ways to construct an oil platform producing 900,000 oil barrels a day, while preserving the most prolific shrimping area and marine diversity in Saudi Arabia.

It seems hard to believe that (take a breath): 41 km of asphalted causeway, three kilometers of bridges, 27 drilling islands, 13 offshore platforms (with 10 producing and 2 evaluation wells each), 15 onshore drill sites, seven water injection platforms (with 10 water injector facilities), multiple pipelines and a 420-megawatt heat and electricity plant can preserve the local marine ecosystem but the projects’ high level environmental and technical engagement has even claimed a UNESCO environmental responsibility award nomination.

The second award is in “Excellence in Environmental Projects and Products”  for its energy-saving power systems and renewable energy projects. In 2012, Saudi Aramco has worked with the Kingdom’s Energy Efficiency Program and National Energy Efficiency Hub to institute several energy (and cost) saving projects resulting in the savings of 13,000 barrels of crude oil per day and 1.0 million tons of CO2 emissions. 

As well as progressing in their first carbon capture and injection project, Saudi Aramco is exploring opportunities to further develop renewable energy technologies, particularly in solar photovoltaics, by creating a Renewable Energy Academy in partnership with  the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, the Masdar Institute for Science and Technology, and the King Abdullah University of Science and Technology.

The final award is for “Excellence in Environmental Applications”, which awards excellence in Health, Safety and Environmental Quality in the workplace with a special emphasis on the process used and applied to ensure total workforce compliance and the use of environmentally friendly products.  

In 2012, Saudi Aramco’s Environmental Protection Department (EPD) measured the environmental performance of more than 40 different facilities, tracking compliance, awareness and training, and initiatives, benchmarked against 21 different environmental indicators.

With the plethora of projects and partnerships, and sheer investment in win-win environmental research and its application, it is fair to say that Saudi Aramco is one of the few, if not the only, oil and gas company in the world which seriously invests in environment research and development.

However there is one major risk, money, a lot of money ( 3 billion USD in revenue per day), can also easily buy acceptance towards environmental destruction, especially when experts, research and the media are involved in the equation, and especially when the renown tenacious character of Saudi Aramco, means that nothing will stop it from reaching its goals- both an admirable and deplorable feat.

Image of Manifa causeway from Jandenul project images

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