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Total E&P Uganda is working in Exploration Area 1 (EA-1) and Exploration Area 1A (EA-1A) within the Albertine Region. Below, the company’s Biodiversity Coordinator, Imogen Crowford, talks about working in an ecologically-sensitive area, and says Total is doing all it can to keep the Albertine environment intact. 

Elephants stro

A herd of elephants strolls in the vicinity of  Totals’ Jobi East well in Murchison Falls National Park. (Photo: Courtesy of Total)

Total E&P Uganda is working in the Murchison Falls National Park which is a recovering ecosystem; kindly give us a brief background on your personal experience in working with such sensitive areas.

I have worked in oil and gas development in European Natura 2000 and Ramsar sites, various United Kingdom National Parks, legally protected areas in Georgia, Azerbaijan and Turkey, Iraq Marshes, over 800 salmon  spawning  rivers  in  Sakhalin  Russia  Far  East,  Eastern  Mediterranean, North Sea and the Caspian Sea.

Murchison Falls National Park is home to some of the most unique species of animals in the world,  such  as  the  Rothschild  giraffe,  what  are  you  doing  to  protect  their  ecosystem  from  oil activities?

Baseline studies and detailed habitat mapping are defining the ecosystems for the first time and these are being carried out in collaboration with Uganda Wildlife Authority. This is complimented by species-specific surveys of  the  endangered,  vulnerable  and  endemic  species.  This informs  the  required avoidance and mitigation measures that will be put in place to protect species and their ecosystems to ensure there is no net loss to critical habitat or endangered species.

We are working closely with the National Environment Management Authority (NEMA) and other regulatory authorities in a long-term partnership to ensure compliance with Environment Impact Assessments (EIAs) prior to any activities.

We have made a clear commitment to apply international good practices to the development of the oil resources as exemplified by the International Finance Corporation (IFC) Performance Standards, also known for being the most stringent standards on environment and biodiversity.

Riwu A well

A stone marking the area  that was restored by Total in Nebbi district after hitting a dry well. (Photo: Beatrice Ongode)

We have also invested in research, planning and highly innovative equipment such as the cable-less 3D seismic technology used for the first time onshore in Africa, as well as the drilling of the first horizontal well in East Africa to minimize environmental impact.

We believe we have established a trustful working relationship with our regulatory stakeholders such as UWA by sharing regular information regarding Total E&P Uganda and its contractors’ operations and activities in a timely manner and by holding regular meetings with them

As part of our commitment to minimize the impact of drilling and seismic activities in the park and the communities where we operate, and in anticipation of the future construction phase of the project, the company together with UWA and Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) has put satellite collars onto individual wild elephants. Radio-collaring of animals is a tried and tested method of studying free-ranging wild animals that has been in practice for several decades. It is primarily used for tracking the movement and activity patterns of the tagged animal, with the signals being sent to a handheld device or to a computer via a satellite. It is often the only method that is available for studying the movement and activity patterns of wide- ranging species like the elephant.

We also contribute to the reduction of poaching activities by removing snares (snares) that we find while undertaking our operations. Over 120 snares have already been removed by Total E&P Uganda and given to UWA.

Can you give examples of some areas where Total has successfully developed oil in a sensitive environment?

Total E&P Uganda has developed oil and gas resources in a number  of  sensitive  locations  around  the  world including the  Laggan  Tormore development located West of Shetland in the UK North Sea and the Yemen LNG facility.

The Laggan Tormore development is scheduled to commence production in 2014 and has been under construction since 2010.  This development not only includes offshore production from the sensitive Atlantic Frontier environment but also pipeline routings through Yell Sound and installation of a gas plant at Sullom Voe, on the Shetland mainland.

The waters around Sullom Voe are home to large populations of seals, dolphins and sea trout and there are a wide variety of birds and animals living in and around the development site, many of which are protected species.   In addition there are several offshore Special Areas of Conservation (SAC) through which the pipelines pass.

So how do you plan to manage pollution prevention and waste management plans for this area.

Waste at Total E&P Uganda sites is categorised and segregated into hazardous & non-hazardous waste. Management of this waste, which includes storage and/or transportation and final treatment and/or disposal, varies according to the types of waste that are generated.

After segregation on site (from camps, drilling rig sites, etc.), waste is transported by a licensed contractor and delivered to other licensed contractors, some for recycling (glass, plastic, batteries, drums), others for treatment (sewage sludge) or incineration (medical waste). Drilling waste is stored in a secure manner at two Waste Consolidation Areas (outside of the National Park) to prevent leakage or contamination pending final treatment. Plans are also underway for the final disposal and treatment of this drilling waste.