A major challenge for those involved within storage is how to develop plans and strategies that not only enhance economic performance but also demonstrate high standards of both environmental stewardship and responsible social performance. Commonly known as sustainability, this is a growing focus for the industry, with oil and gas sustainability spending set to reach $6.5bn in 2017 according to a recent report from Verdantix, a significant increase from $5.4 billion in 2012. Today Tank World looks at this subject and gains insight from Dr. Rashid Alleem Director General Department of Seaports & Customs and Sharjah Free Zones Authority, and a leading expert in this field, about the growing role of sustainability within the oil and gas storage industry.
To start I asked Dr Alleem how he defines sustainability: “Sustainability means survival. Sustainability means success. Without sustainability, global economic crisis like the historic 2008 economic meltdown will continue to take us back and affect our economic progress. Sustainable development in the present highly competitive global markets calls for a vision and long-term planning. In our quest for sustainability we fail to make use of the best of available resources and in the right manner. Sustainability does not only ensures our survival but it also ensures survival of our generations to be.
This is a point underline by Statoil president and CEO Helge Lund at a speech in 2013; “As industry players, we also carry a responsibility to meet our common challenge, look for solutions, and implement and improve our CO2 footprint. We do not have all the answers. There is not one single solution. Our efforts cover a range of areas on which our progress still varies.”
“Some take the view that extraction of finite resources almost by definition is unsustainable. That they create more harm than good. I beg to differ. Our industry is not issues-free. There are benefits as well as burdens. We need therefore to continue to increase the first and minimise the latter. How we respond to the climate challenge is at the core of that debate,” added Lund.
By focussing on sustainable business solutions and managing effectively both business risks and corporate citizenship challenges companies are not only building credibility and trust but also helping insure themselves against crisis such as the Deepwater Horizon explosion and oil spill of 2010. Oil and gas companies and the energy industry as a whole are at various stages of integrating sustainability into their overall strategies. This can take a number of forms including corporate social responsibility, performance indicators, environmental reports – all often sometimes requiring independent verification to increase or prove transparency.
Most large energy companies now prominently feature sustainability as ingrained in their fabric. A quick glance at the BP website sees them proudly state; “BP’s objective is to create value for shareholders and supplies of energy for the world in a safe and responsible way. We strive to be a world-class operator, a responsible corporate citizen and a good employer. Keeping a relentless focus on safety is naturally a top priority for us…”
But the economic aspect is never far away, BP again “Strong financial performance is vital because it enables us to make the investments necessary to produce the energy that society requires, while rewarding and maintaining the support of our shareholders.”
With sustainability becoming an integral part of the corporate culture at companies all over the world, tank storage is no different. Dr. Alleem again; “Sustainability is crucial for the tank storage industry which offers a triple bottom line of economic, social & environmental results to those who engage with it successfully”. With this greater understanding sustainability is moving from a being a response to regulatory compliance to a force not just for good but also to potentially improve productivity and profitability.
Dr Rashid Alleem was a keynote expert speaker at Tank World Expo, 14-15 April 2014 at the Dubai World Trade Centre.