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Environmental Management in ADNOC

Environmental Management in ADNOC

Part One

ADNOC is a state-owned company that engages in the exploration and production of oil and gas. Its main activities include processing, refining, and marketing of crude oil; chemical and petrochemical production; and distribution of the final product. ADNOC was established in 1971 to meet the large demand for petroleum products within the United Arabs Emirates and the rest of the world. Its growth over the years has been steadfast with its management aiming to integrate better services and make higher profits. Currently, there are 16 subsidiary companies which play a vital role in the production, management, and preservation of the existing hydrocarbons (ADNOC, n.d.). They are ADCO, ADMA -OPCO, GASCO, ADGAS, ZADCO, TAKREER, NDC, ESNAAD, IRSHAD, FERTIL, BOROUGE, ADNATCO, NGSCO, ADNOC, ELIXIER and ADGDC (ADNOC, n.d.). The Supreme Petroleum Council (SPC) oversees all the operations by formulating and ensuring that the company’s policies are implemented adequately.

The ADNOC understands the importance of protecting the community, environment, and employees by committing to the health, safety, and environment (HSE) requirements. All contractors and their subsidiaries must adhere to the company procedures and the standard guidelines laid by the HSE department in line with the scope of work. HSE comprises three departments: operational safety, crisis management, and emergency preparedness, and technical HSE. The organizational sections serve different purposes to ensure that workers adhere to the set guidelines and policies. ADNOC emphasizes the need to identify and mitigate health, safety, and environment (HSE) risks (ADNOC, n.d.). All businesses associated with the company are subject to environmental monitoring.

Regarding environmental management, HSE departments administer strategies and set objects for the company’s onshore operations. Also, developing and maintaining environmental guidelines as required for by the law. The department reviews and evaluates environmental impacts associated with the company’s operations like drilling and processing to ensure that everyone adheres to the rules and regulations. All the set policies must be implemented according to the plan and techniques with the organizations. HSE is responsible for the industrial hygiene and public health guidance within the organization, therefore, the division ensures that EIAs is performed throughout the project so that all procedures remain suitable and sufficient to prevent exposure to health hazards. Workers should observe personal hygiene and cleanliness at the workplace. The government has set regulations towards the noise, chemical, biological and ergonomics which much be edited and inspected on a regular basis. Finally, HSE educates and educates workers on matters related to hygiene, occupational health & hygiene.

Corporate health, safety, and environment division (CHSE) play an essential role in environmental management. HSE sets and oversees environmental strategies and procedures according to the legal requirements. Massive investments towards environmental projects that can minimize Green House Gas (GHS) are on course. Additionally, the HSE division is accountable for various marine protection and development projects, such as the rehabilitation of the coral reef. UAE is fully committed to managing risks associated with the climate changes. In support to that, ADNOC is proactively researching renewable energy (ADNOC, n.d.). The company has adequate information regarding the performance of HSE to help monitor the progress and improve the performance.

ADNOC is required to adhere to environmental protection law and regulations which is subject to UAE Federal Law NO.24 of 1999. The standards of these laws are developed, issued and revised by the federal agency in collaboration with other relevant bodies. The aim is to maintain nature including the aquatic environment. The company is prohibited by article 18 from discharging oil and gas wastes from the onshore and offshore operations into the environment. ADNOC operates under a non-flaring policy that limits burning of crude oil to avoid air pollution (Comyn & Tiller, 2017). It is the environmental regulatory body in Abu Dhabi responsible for setting standards and monitoring compliance under the authority of the SPC.


Part Two

Waste management is the process by which pollutants from oil drilling are controlled to reduce their adverse effects on the environment. Production and processing of petroleum products result in drilling wastes which pollute the surrounding (Kardena, 2015).  Modern techniques like directional, coil tubing, slim-hole, and pneumatic drilling have been used to control and reduce the impacts of waste products on the environment (Kumar et al., 2017).  Like any other petroleum organization, ADNOC contributes to the pollution of the environment in the event of exploration, oil spillage, gas flaring, and oil refining operations. Waste-management requires an acute understanding of the type of spillage, their generation mechanism, and the appropriate control methods. It is essential for the company’s management to understand how various wastes are generated in order to apply proper control techniques.

Drilling waste and flaring are the common environmental issues that need special attention as required by the regulatory body. According to Oyewunmi & Oyewunmi (2016), experts in the petroleum industry consider the application of flaring when a need to safely consume waste gases arises. Notably, the process is considered efficient when combustion takes place in an open flame.  Flaring is conducted when testing wells during the production process so that flammable gases which are unusable and uneconomical can be disposed of. However, it has potential health risks and environmental challenges, such as noise, odor, and smoke. Thus, it is an environmental concern due to its effects on global warming.

A variety of waste products from drilling activities such as drill cuttings and muds must be carefully handled, treated, and disposed to avoid their adverse effects. Available technologies are used by ADNOC to minimize discharges and impacts (Whitfield, 2017). However, strategies to re-use and dispose of oil-based mud (OBM) and water-based mud (WBM) are in place. Petroleum companies have a responsibility to ensure that the environment is not affected by the operations, such as drilling, processing, and transportation. The two types of wastes that affect the environment are the drilling fluids (muds) and the drill cuttings.

Drill cuttings that are removed directly from the hole are not harmful, yet they are contaminated with WBM/OBM mud. Therefore, they should be managed properly using equipment, such as shale shakers, Hi- G-Dryer, and Centrifuge, which have a lower level of toxicity and concentration of drilling fluids. This solid control equipment reduces the quantity of drilling fluids on cuttings (Shaikh, 2016). Chemical components used by ADNOC have a low level of chemical toxicity and precautions in drilling mud formulations ensure that wastes produced are non-toxic and biodegradable. Liquid fluids such as WBM and OBM saline brine obtained from well completion must be transferred from well to well, using tanks, for reusing before they are deemed unsuitable for further use. Additionally, wastes can be managed by reducing their volume at the source. The objective can be achieved through a slim-hole design which reduces the amount of wastes produced. The total cost of slim-hole drilling operation is lower than the conventional whole sizes and waste management costs.


The company should consider using cleaner energy sources such as solar, wind, and hydro energy to power its drilling machines in order to reduce the rate of risk of environmental pollution. Moreover, ADNOC can apply techniques that use less drilling fluid and have lower environmental impacts, such as the synthetic-based mud. This method has similar properties as the oil- based; however, it is environment-friendly as it does not contain poly-nuclear aromatic hydrocarbons. Additionally, it is less toxic and has lower rates of bioaccumulation. The strategy results in cleaner drill holes than water-based muds with small amounts of cuttings and sloughing. Pneumatic drilling is also recommended because it reduces the negative environmental effects of drilling fluids. The four types of pneumatic drilling include air-dust, air mist, foam, and aerated mud drilling.

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