Action Plan for the protection of the environment from offshore platforms
The objective of this Action Plan is to ensure that environmental impacts from production and the preceding exploration for oil and natural gas remain within the limits set out in international and national regulations and correspond to principles of Best Available Technique (BAT) and Best Environmental Practice (BEP). Taking into account that most parts of the Baltic Sea Area have been declared by IMO as a Particularly Sensitive Sea Area and based upon BAT and BEP the “zero-discharge” principle* has already been implemented at a Russian offshore platform in the Baltic Sea, these principles shall be applied within forthcoming years to all existing, planned and under-construction offshore platforms (drilling rigs and production platforms) in the Baltic Sea Area.
The Action Plan covers the following elements and requirements:
All operators shall apply “zero-discharge” principle not later than 1 January 2010:
by 23 April 2008 all operators must have ceased discharges of all “black” chemicals**;
operators must continue the process of substituting chemicals so that discharges of “red” chemicals cease no later than 1 January 2010.
All operators shall apply the “zero-discharge” principle for polluted substances and materials not later than 1 January 2010, which means that:
from 1 January 2008 operators must comply with a limit value for dispersed oil of 15 mg/l, in production water discharged into the sea, measured as volume-weighted monthly average;
from 1 January 2010 any discharge of oil-containing water shall be prohibited.
All operators shall apply “zero-discharge” principle as soon as possible, which means that:
emissions of NOx and SOx to air shall comply with requirements of Annex VI to MARPOL 73/78 from 1 January 2008;
emissions of VOCs, CO2 and other greenhouse gases should correspond to BAT (e.g. elimination of flaring, use of low sulphur fuel, introduction of NOx-abatement techniques for combustion exhausts, introduction of CO2 emission reduction methods and techniques).
All operators shall apply “zero-discharge” principle not later than by 1 January 2008, which means that all solid wastes shall be disposed on land and treated in an environmentally good manner.
All operators shall apply “zero-discharge” principle while decommissioning offshore installations at the end of their exploitation. The installations shall be removed, dismantled and subsequently treated in an environmentally friendly manner.
Any new plan for offshore activities shall undergo a thorough Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) procedure, including, if needed, assessment in a transboundary context under the 1991 Convention on Environmental Impact Assessment in a Transboundary Context (in case of potential adverse impacts on neighbouring states). Upon launching of a new installation, respective post-project analysis of its environmental performance against provisions of the initial EIA shall be undertaken in accordance with the afore-mentioned Convention.
By no later than 2008, operators must introduce environmental management under a system ready for certification or other similar scheme. If another scheme is chosen, an independent third party must verify compliance with the legislative requirements on environmental reporting and measurement methods.
All existing facilities shall undergo a regular survey (monitoring) of their actual pollution load and impacts. Guidelines shall be adopted on the matter.
The environmental performance of offshore activities shall be handled in accordance with HELCOM Guidelines (HELCOM Recommendation 18/2).
For 2008 and thereafter, each operator must prepare an annual environmental report and make it available to the public. The report must describe the environmental impacts of the oil and gas production, including emissions and discharges of substances to the atmosphere and the sea.
* The “zero-discharge” principle means a general approach to ensure the proper treatment of all kinds of offshore platform-generated wastes, including processing and consumption wastes, on land or on the offshore platforms according to Best Available Techniques and Best Environmental Practices and MARPOL 73/78, with the aim of avoiding discharges to the marine environment.
** The lists of “black” and “red” chemicals are to be adopted at the HELCOM 29/2008 meeting, taking into account the OSPAR Recommendation 2000/4.