Holistic environmental assessment and offshore oil field exploration and production

Edward Salter, John Ford

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    16 Citations (Scopus)


    According to UK Government surveys, concern for the environment is growing. Environmental regulation of the industry is becoming wider in its scope and tougher in its implementation. Various techniques are available to assess how the industry can drive down its environmental impact and comply with environmental regulation. Environmental Assessments (EA) required by European law do not cover the whole life cycle of the project that they are analysing. Life Cycle Analysis (LCA) was developed to assess the environmental loadings of a product, process or activity over its entire life cycle. It was the first technique used in environmental analysis that adopted what was described as a holistic approach. It fails this approach by not assessing accidental emissions or environmental impacts other than those that are direct. Cost Benefit Analysis (CBA) offers the opportunity to value environmental effects and appraise a project on the basis of costs and benefits. Not all environmental effects can be valued and of those that can there is considerable uncertainty in their valuation and occurrence. CBA cannot satisfactorily measure the total environmental risk of a project. Consequently there is a need for a technique that overcomes the failures of project-level EA, LCA and CBA, and assesses total environmental risk. Many organizations such as, the British Medical Association, the European Oilfield Speciality Chemicals Association, the Royal Ministry of Petroleum and Energy (Norway) and Shell Expro now recognize that a holistic approach is an integral part of assessing total risk. The Brent SPAR case study highlights the interdisciplinary nature required of any environmental analysis. Holistic Environmental Assessment is recommended as such an environmental analysis. Copyright © 2001 Elsevier Science Ltd.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)45-58
    Number of pages14
    JournalMarine Pollution Bulletin
    Issue number1
    Publication statusPublished - 2001


    • Environmental damage
    • Holistic environmental assessment
    • Impact pathways
    • Oil and gas
    • Public perception
    • Total environmental risk


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