Mitsui E&P Australia (MEPAU) takes a systematic and deliberate approach to protecting the environment during all of its operations. A comprehensive risk assessment identifies all of the potential impacts an activity or project may have on an area. The company then determines how to effectively manage these risks by implementing protection measures.
Risk assessment is a key part of project planning. The aim is to ensure the activity is managed to “As Low As Reasonably Practicable” (ALARP). ALARP refers to the point where the cost involved in further reducing the environmental impacts and risks of the activity would be highly disproportionate to the environment benefit gained. The principle arises from the reality that resources are finite and should focus on reducing the environmental impacts and/or risks that will deliver the best environmental outcomes possible.
Risk assessment is fundamental to the regulatory approvals processes used in Western Australia. A risk management framework provided by Department of Mines, Industry Regulation and Safety (DMIRS) outlines the key steps involved and used by MEPAU (Figure 1).
Figure 1. Risk Management Process ISO 31000:2009
Source: Department of Mines, Industry Regulation and Safety –
Guideline for the development of petroleum and geothermal environment plans in Western Australia (page 19)
The approach undertaken towards risk management for each aspect involves a review of the residual risk post treatment to determine if the environmental impacts and risks of the activity will be managed to an acceptable level. Where additional implementation measures are necessary to reach a level of acceptability they are considered and adopted.
The risk assessment and management measures are detailed in each Environment Plan submitted to the regulators for approval. Environment Plan summaries are posted on the Department of Mines, Industry Regulation and Safety website for a six month period. These summaries include management measures for key risks and details on all down-hole chemicals used at each well.