Environment and Safety
Exploration and production of Hydrocarbon is a developmental activity , which is likely to have some adverse impact on natural environment. To ensure sustainable development and conservation of environment, there is a need to address and incorporate environmental issues in planning and management of the E&P activities. Many legislations and rules have accordingly been formulated from time to time, which are required to be complied with by the E&P operators before, during and after the completion of operations.
The environmental laws are formulated, implemented and monitored by the Ministry of Environment, Forest & Climate Change (MoEF&CC), the Central and State Pollution Control Board(s), State Forest and Wildlife Departments etc.
In the following sections, environment related clearances, relevant Article in Production Sharing contract, policy framework, information relating to oil spill management and other important laws and regulations relating to environment and safety in E&P sector are highlighted:
1. Environment & CRZ Clearances :.
- Environmental Clearance : The Ministry of Environment, Forest & Climate Change (MoEF&CC) has made the Environmental Clearance (EC) mandatory for various projects , including E&P sector, under the Environmental Impact Assessment notification of 14th September, 2006. For facilitating preparation of Environmental Impact Assessment reports, technical guidance manual for E&P sector has been finalised by MoEF&CC and displayed on the Website. Ministry has also developed standard Terms of Reference (ToRs) for conduct of EIA study for offshore and onshore Oil and Gas exploration, development and production activities. These standard ToRs shall enable the operator to commence preparation of EIA after online submission and registration of application.
Exploration and Production of oil and gas is a permissible activity under the Coastal Regulation Zone (CRZ) Notification 2011, but permission would be required from MoEF&CC based on recommendations of the State Government(s).
Details of EIA notification 2006, it’s amendments from time to time, CRZ notification, 2011, various circulars related to environmental clearances, online application for EC , list of accredited consultants for preparation of EIA reports, tracking project clearance status , meeting dates and minutes of the Environmental Appraisal Committee (EAC) can be viewed on website (www.envfor.nic.in).
- Forest Clearance : If the E&P operations involve diversion of forest land, then Forest Clearance (FC) under the Forest (Conservation) Act, 1980, is required. Forest (Conservation) Rules have also been revised in April, 2014 to give special considerations for exploration surveys including for Oil and Gas and Annexure C has been added.
Further a notification G. S. R. 713 ( E) dated 10th October, 2014 has been issued namely, “The Forest (Conservation) Second Amendment Rules” for consideration of forest diversion cases in various slabs such as up to 5 ha., between 5 and 40 ha., above 100 ha. etc along with timelines and level of consideration. Regional Empowered Committees have also been constituted to deal with forest diversion cases at regional level. As in case of EC, details can be viewed on website (www.envfor.nic.in).
- Wildlife Clearance : In cases where E&P activities are planned in and around Protected Areas like National Parks and Wildlife Sanctuaries., in addition to EC and FC, clearance under the Wildlife (Protection) Act,1972 is also required. There are important Orders and Judgements of Hon’ble Supreme Court in this regards. All these details can be accessed on the above referred site.
The surveys, investigations and explorations are generally prohibited in National Parks, Sanctuaries, Biosphere reserves and in preservation and sample areas under the Wildlife ( Protection ) Act, 1972. The guidelines for activities in protected areas and their network are attached for ready reference. (Wildlife Guidelines Protected Area Network)
- Consent to Establish and Consent to Operate : The Consent to Establish (CTE) and Consent to Operate (CTO) are given by respective State Pollution Control Board (SPCB) under the Water (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act, 1974 and Air (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act, 1981 . The detailed procedure adopted by the concerned Board can be seen at their website. The portal of the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) may also be seen. (www.cpcb.nic.in)
2. Environmental Requirements as per Production Sharing Contract :.
Article 14 of the Production Sharing Contract (PSC) deals with ‘Protection of Environment’ and stipulates that the Contractor shall ensure protection of environment and conservation of natural resources by adopting modern oilfield practices/standards, advanced technologies, practices of operations to prevent environmental damage.
As per article 14.5.1 of PSC, the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) studies shall be carried out in two parts, namely, a preliminary part which should be carried out before commencement of any field work relating to seismic or other survey, and second part relating to drilling in the exploration period as per provisions of EIA notification 2006. The part of study relating to drilling operations shall be approved by Govt. Of India before commencement of such work.
As per article 14.5.2 of PSC, the second part of study is also to be completed before commencement of development operations and approval of Govt of India is to be obtained before commencement of development operations.
The Article further states that in the event of emergency like accident, oil spill, fire etc the Contractor shall implement relevant contingency plan and perform such site restoration, as may be necessary.
Further, if the contract area is partially located in areas which form part of certain National Park, Sanctuary, mangroves, wetlands of national importance, biosphere reserve and other eco-sensitive zone, passage through such areas shall generally be not permitted. However, if there is no passage, other than through these areas to reach a particular point beyond these areas, permission of appropriate authorities shall be obtained.
Details of PSC for various bidding rounds are displayed on the website of DGH.
3. Policy Provisions relating to environment clearances :.
- Policy for Extension of Exploration Phases under NELP and Pre NELP Production Sharing Contracts
The policy apart from laying guidelines for extension of Exploration phases under NELP and Pre-NELP production sharing contracts also has provision of demonstrable delay on account of getting govt approvals/permits/clearances being counted as excusable delay.
- Policy for extension of Exploration Phases for exploration and Production under Coal Bed Methane Contracts (Policy IV/ CBM Extension/2007)
The policy apart from laying guidelines for extension of Exploration phase I & II in CBM contracts also has provision of demonstrable delay on account of getting Govt approvals/permits/clearances which are not attributable to contractor being counted as excusable delays and condoning of such delays.
- Policy Framework for Relaxation, Extension and Clarification at the Development and Production Stage under the PSC regime for early Monetisation of Hydrocarbon Discoveries – Policy of 14th Nov., 2014
Section 3 of the policy covers the reduction in Minimum Work Program (MWP) in cases of blocks overlapping with Special Economic Zone (SEZ), reserve forest, naval exercise areas, National Parks and firing ranges etc. The details covered in this section also include choice to the operator to exit the block due to lack of statutory /other clearances beyond two years, reduction in PEL fees etc. Details can be seen on the website of Ministry on Petroleum and Natural Gas/DGH.
4. National Oil Spill Disaster Contingency Plan (NOS-DCP) :.
The National Oil Spill Disaster Contingency Plan (NOS-DCP) is the national plan for dealing with the Oil Spill response in maritime zones of India. This plan was originally promulgated in 1996 and has been revised in 2015. The NOS-DCP delineates responsibilities and preparedness by various resource and oil handling agencies beside government agencies. It also covers responsibilities of state level agencies, concerned coastal state pollution control boards, involvement of NGOs, the public information mechanism etc. The Indian Coast Guard (ICG) is the central coordinating authority for enforcing the provisions of the NOSDCP in the maritime zones of India. All the offshore E&P operators are required to establish the necessary oil spill contingency plan, effective maintenance of oil spill preparedness and on board Tier-1 level oil spill response facility.
5. An Indicative List of Important Laws and Regulations relating to Environment and Safety in E&P sector :.
- Environment (Protection) Act, 1986 and amendments
- Forest (Conservation) Act, 1980 and amendments
- Wildlife (Protection) Act, 1972 and amendments
- Environmental Impact Assessment Notification, 2006 and amendments
- Coastal Regulation Zone Notification 2011
- Biodiversity Act, 2002
- Noise Pollution (Regulation and Control) Rules, 2000
- Public Liability Insurance act, 1981 and amendments
- Oil Mines Regulation,1984
- Petroleum & natural Gas (Safety in Offshore Operations) Rules, 2008
- Mines Act, 1951 and it’s amendments
- Merchant Shipping Act 1958 and amendments
- Hazardous Waste (Management, Handling and Trans Boundary Movement) Rules, 2008