The Australian oil and gas industry directly funds a significant scientific research program to better understand and demonstrate a commitment to the Australian environment. Valued at millions of dollars each year, most of this work is undertaken with academic researchers. The research contributes substantially to the environmental scientific data available.
One example is the Collaborative Environment Research Initiative (CERI), coordinated by APPEA. This provides a framework for companies to work together on environmental research topics that benefit the industry and community.
In late 2011, APPEA published a selection of environmental research projects undertaken in Australia and sponsored by petroleum companies over recent years. The Environmental Research Compendium (2011) summarises 49 research projects. It explains why and how each project was undertaken, and provides outcomes, findings and industry implications. Studies include fauna (such as whales, sharks, turtles and dugongs), vegetation, currents and tides, marine and terrestrial habitats, water quality, marine noise and dredging.
The compendium is a useful reference and has helped to increase understanding within the industry, and among regulators and the community, about the industry’s commitment to environmental research.
APPEA has also commissioned a much larger, two-year project that brings together a wealth of research on Australia’s marine environment. The third edition of Environmental implications of offshore oil and gas development in Australia (Blue Book 3) expands on earlier ‘Blue Book’ research compendiums published in 1994 and 2003.
The new edition will provide ready access to a wide range of recent marine research and data covering the entire life cycle of offshore oil and gas activities. Blue Book 3 will also help to reduce duplication of research and identify areas for further work.
All of the research is peer reviewed by an independent scientific panel for transparency and objectivity.
The Australian oil and gas industry also supports international research programs and collaborates with international organisations (such as the OGP and the Society of Petroleum Engineers) to access the world’s best research and environmental management strategies. Programs include the Joint Industry Program on E&P Sound and Marine Life which is studying the effect of seismic sound on marine life.