Environmental Impact Assessment and Environmental Risk Analysis

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This research focuses on the incorporation of environmental risk analysis (ERA) in environmental impact assessment (EIA) for the oil and gas operations. Firstly, this chapter looks at the environmental impact assessment process in the oil and gas industry. It also outlines the benefits and barriers of the process in the oil and gas industry. Secondly, the chapter focuses on the generalized environmental risk analysis processes and its significance in EIA. The chapter will then look at the concepts and elements of risk analysis comprising assessment and management. The fourth part of the chapter comprises of the literature on the significance of ERA in the oil and gas industry. Finally, it looks at the contrast of the use of ERA in an oil company to that of an oil company that is not practicing ERA.

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2.2 Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) process

Environmental impact assessment is described as the process of identifying the possible consequences for mans health, his welfare, and biophysical environment according to Geneletti (2013). It conveys the information at a phase when it can immensely affect the decision on the people responsible for authorizing the proposals. According to Glasson et al. (2005), it covers socio-economic effects for a unified appraisal. Therefore, it is a process has the ultimate objective of providing decision makers with indication of likely consequences of the action taken. It the author also clarifies that the objective of EIA is not forcing decision makers to adopt the least damaging alternatives to the environment but to ensure there are more developments that will take place.

From Bastmeijer (2008) analysis, the EIA process ensures that environmental issues become raised when a plan or project is discussed and most concerns gain momentum up to the implementation phase. He also argues that the recommendations made by environmental impact assessment could influence the redesign of a project components, and it would suggest changes that could alter the economic viability of the project. According to Glasson et al.(2005), the recommendations can also cause a delay in the implementation of the project. Glasson et al. (2005) assert that EIA promotes the communication to citizens and their involvement in the first phases of any project. According to Bastmeijer (2008), decisions that are not related to EIA are involved in the process because decisions on permits and licenses are already made and it is hard to reverse the legal process on the project.

The Environmental Impact Assessment takes place in phases. According to Geneletti (2013), the stages of the EIA process take place in five stages. Bastmeijer (2008) argues that the process involves screening, scoping, preparation of an environmental statement, decision making and making of a planning application and consultation. The author explains the screening phase as the stage that determines whether the proposed project is within the set regulations and if it has some significance on the environment. The analysis, therefore, requires an assessment. Glasson et al. (2005) argue that the steps involved in EIA are screening, scoping, prediction and mitigation. The final stages according to this author are management, monitoring, and auditing. The screening process according to Glasson et al. (2005) involves categorizing the project and deciding on whether or not the EIA should be carried out.

Geneletti (2013) agrees with Glasson et al. (2005) explanation of the screening phase because he argues that it determines whether the project requires an EIA and at what level of the project an environmental review is necessary. The scoping stage according to Bastmeijer (2008) determines the extent of issues that can be considered in assessing and reporting in the environmental statement. An applicant can enquire from the local planning authority for their opinion on the information that needs to be used. Morris and Therivel (2009) argue that the scoping stage determines the most critical issues that one needs to study, and it involves the participation of the community to some extent. The stage can easily influence the proposal outline because it among the first stages of the process. Similarly, Geneletti (2013) refers scoping as the stage that determines the impacts that have a significant effect on the environment.

The third stage of the process according to Anjaneyulu and Manickam (2007) is the preparation of an environmental assessment. According to this researcher, an applicant has to compile information to assess environmental effects when there is the necessity of assessment. Morris and Therivel (2009) third phase is having detailed prediction and mitigation studies after scoping. The studies, in this case, take place in correspondence to feasibility studies. On the other hand, Geneletti (2013), argues that the EIA process third stage is report preparation. According to this author, the phase determines the importance of direct and indirect effects of the project and the major issues that can be considered in the study.

The fourth stage according to Glasson et al. (2005) is making a planning application and consultation. He argues that the statutory consultation bodies and the citizens have the chance to pass their views concerning the environmental statement and the proposed development. Bastmeijer (2008) disagrees with Glasson et al. (2005) because the fourth stage is the environmental impact statement and involves managing and monitoring environmental impacts before and after implementation. Morris and Therivel (2009) fourth stage of the process is similar to Glasson et al. (2005) because he asserts that it involves a review of the report. There is analysis and presentation of relevant information carried out by a decision maker or a review committee.

Decision-making is the final stage of the process according to Geneletti (2013). The local planning authority takes into account the environmental statement alongside other information that is relevant to the decisions and comments made about the process. The public also knows about the decision and the reasons for the decision made. An audit is the last stage of EIA process from Bastmeijer (2008) argument. He asserts that the audit serves an important feedback and the learning function. This process takes place after implementation of the other stages. Anjaneyulu and Manickam (2007) disagree with the other authors because he believes the final stage of the EIA process is monitoring the whole process. The phase provides particular information on the features and roles of social and environmental variables.

2.3 Benefits

Environmental impact assessment process has some benefits to its users. Some researchers have come up with the advantages of the assessment as well as the process. Morris and Therivel (2009) claim that involving the public plays an important role in shaping environmental attitudes in both the industry and the government. The increase of public awareness has established a principle of conservation of the quality of the environment hence becoming a benefit. On the same benefits, Bastmeijer (2008) adds that EIA gives stakeholders and the community awareness of the impacts of the projects, and it incorporates stakeholder analysis.

According to Geneletti (2013), the assessment demonstrates costs effectiveness if the user applies it correctly and it contributes positively to corporate credibility. He focuses on the cost effectiveness of the process and the creation of a credibility image towards the public. Bastmeijer (2008) argues that EIA provides preventive measures to the problems, which result from the impact of oil and gas projects on the environment. Among other benefits outlined by Bastmeijer (2008) are that EIA assists to improve the safety conditions of oil and gas staffs who are in the production and exploration department. He also asserts that it helps to institute best environmental management practice through its environmental plan and to ensure the measures are in place to enable in the modification of feasible projects. The process pre-empts of unsound proposals from Glasson et al. (2005) argument. It is also a formal approval and involves the formation of the terms and conditions to implement the project and follow it up.

2.4 Barriers

There are barriers that affect environmental impact assessment (EIA). They include political, technical and logistic according to Geneletti (2013). Lack of experience and skills is a major barrier identified by Morris and Therivel (2009) and Glasson et al. (2005). Many people lack the skills to carry out the process and. Therefore, it could lead to the failure of the project. Lack of funds to carry out the whole process is another barrier identified by Bastmeijer (2008). Most projects end up failing due to poor allocation of funds or lack of resources. People need to have proper planning of how the project will take place and the sources of funds so that the project does not end up failing.

High levels of uncertainty are a great barrier of EIA according to Morris and Therivel (2009). It is hard to predict the outcomes or probability of a risk associated with the project, and, therefore, researchers need to use a variety of methods to carry out the tests and attain good results on the assessment. Political powers also influence the EIA process where many leaders want some projects to work for their personal interests and some of the leaders influence projects to stop if the initiators do not work according to his plans (Glasson et al., 2005). There are rules and regulations that a government can put into place that could affect a firms practices. The new policies could eventually lead to the halt of some projects because some companies are unable to follow what the government wants them to follow. Lack of time and facilities is also a barrier of EIA and it adversely affects the EIA process if there no prior proper preparations on the process.

2.5 Environmental Risk Analysis (ERA)

It is the process of dealing with the interactions of human and ecological resources and their agents and hazards according to Applegate (2004). According to Calow (2014), ERA has two components: ecological risk assessment and human health risk assessment. Kahraman (2008) claims that ERA covers the risk that all ecosystems are exposed to or affected by. According to Lambert (2006), it is the process of evaluating the repercussions of the hazards and the probabilities of their occurrence.

The analysis follows a certain process, which different scholars have researched and written about. Calow (2014) process involves the identification of the hazard. This is the stage where the situation or a tangible item is identified by its ability to cause harm or be safe for use. Morrone (2006) and Nakayachi (2000) also support Calow (2014) idea of hazard identification. Therefore, the first step in the analysis is the identification of the hazard. The next step is assessing the consequences. One must consider all potential consequences at this stage because they can cause extra harm if not looked at according to Calow (2014). Both Nakayachi (2000) and Morrone (2006) back up Calow (2014) statement because they also assert that the next step of this process should be the identification of the consequences of the hazard.

The third step is the estimation of the extent of the consequences from Calow (2014) research. He argues that one can consider the spatial and temporal scale of the consequences and the period taken for the consequences to occur. Morrone (2006) concurs with Calow (2014) as he states that the third stage of the process...

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