Oil companies agree to work on environmental impact

The oil and gas industry has become the latest sector in the USA to sign up to a voluntary agreement designed to reduce its environmental impact.

The exploration and refinery industry is the 13th to join the Environmental Protection Agency's Sector Strategies Programme which promotes collaboration between the private and public sectors and NGOs.

Similar schemes, such as the UK Environment Agency's sector plans, have proved useful in other countries.

The EPA's programme sees the agency working with diverse parties to improve the environmental impact of the major manufacturing and service sectors of the US economy.

In a nutshell, it encourages trade associations to sign up to voluntary agreements drawn up by regulators, environmentalists and industry itself to deliver concrete, quantifiable improvements to environmental performance.

This week's announcement demonstrates that the oil and gas industry has shown willing to work with the EPA but the publication of the agreed plan in coming months will be the true gauge of how far it is prepared to go.

The 12 sectors already covered by these plans are agribusiness, cement manufacturing, speciality-batch chemical manufacturing, colleges and universities, construction, forestry, iron and steel manufacturing, metal casting, metal finishing, paint and coatings, ports and shipbuilding and repair.

EPA's primary contacts in the oil industry will be the American Petroleum Institute (API), the Domestic Petroleum Council (DPC), and the Independent Petroleum Association of America (IPAA).

Collectively, these organizations represent the full spectrum of oil and gas operations from exploration and production to refining and distribution.

The US is the world's third-largest petroleum producer, with more than 500,000 producing wells and approximately 4,000 oil and natural gas platforms operating in its waters.

The nation's 144 refineries process more than 17 million barrels of crude oil every day.

Sam Bond



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