The Ministry is dedicated to the health and safety of the workers and citizens of the Kurdistan Region and throughout Iraq, and encourages the sustainable, long-term development of the country’s resources. Across the energy industry, local and international partners alike are encouraged to practice due diligence and employ safety, security and readiness procedures in their operations.
Environmental protection is safeguarded under three laws and documents in the Kurdistan Region: the Law of Environmental Protection and Improvement; the Oil and Gas Law; and the production-sharing contracts. They require companies to conduct environmental impact assessments before starting any commercial or industrial activities, and to compensate land owners for any damages to crops or the surrounding lands.
Under the production sharing contracts, the companies are mandated to contribute to an environment fund every year. They are required to meet international petroleum industry standards of practice and adhere to the Kurdistan Region’s laws to prevent pollution and protect the environment. This includes the protection of fauna and flora, property, agricultural areas and fisheries. Other obligations in the contracts include preventing environmental damage when constructing pipelines, and decommissioning or surrendering contract areas according to international petroleum industry standards of practice.
The Ministry has recently established a Health, Safety and Environment Department (HSED) to assume primary responsibility for the Ministry’s regulatory activities in these areas.
The HSED's mission is to strive for the development of the Kurdistan Region’s hydrocarbon resources in a socially and environmentally responsible manner, to meet the growing needs of the local population. Its activities are aimed at protecting the Region’s environment (including its biodiversity, wild habitat and water resources) and promoting safe and environmentally sound practices in the industries regulated by the ministry, while encouraging the optimal exploitation of the Kurdistan’s natural resources. In particular, the Health, Safety and Environment Department:
- Regulates and monitors the hydrocarbons industry to identify and reduce unsafe and environmentally damaging behavior at all stages of exploration, development, production and rehabilitation;
- Supervises the industry to ensure compliance with the provisions of applicable primary and secondary legislations, accepted standards and guidelines for environmental protection and health and safety; and
- Develops and promulgates suitable instructions and guidelines on environmental and health and safety issues related to the exploitation of natural resources in the Region.
- Through such activities, the HSED will help secure the responsible development of hydrocarbons resources in order to achieve sustainable prosperity for the Kurdistan Region.
Read more in this article (PDF) by Dr Hallo Askari, the Head of the Department of Health, Safety and Environment.
Instructions and Guidelines
On 2 April 2015, the Ministry's Instructions No. 1 on the Environmental Impact Assessment of Petroleum Operations were promulgated by publication in the Kurdistan Gazette (Waqai'i Kurdistan). The Instructions appear at page 18 of Volume 184 of the Gazette. Accordingly, the Instructions now have full legal force and have been effective since 2 April 2015. We therefore expect full compliance with them.
As many will be aware, the EIA Instructions were the subject of a public consultation process and were released in draft form before and after the consultation. The draft versions were released for comment and information purposes and have no legal force. Affected parties must ensure that they instead comply with the promulgated version of the EIA Instructions as published in the Gazette.
Today, the Ministry has also issued new Guidelines pursuant to the EIA Instructions. The Guidelines contain additional guidance and information on the requirements in the Instructions.
The EIA Instructions (the official Arabic version and an English translation) and the Guidelines are available now. The Arabic version can also be found in the Kurdistan Gazette (Waqai'i Kurdistan).
We encourage the companies in the Kurdistan Region to carry out corporate social responsibility projects in their areas of operation, including environmental projects.
Talisman Energy since July 2012 has collected an estimated 1 million plastic drinking bottles from their field sites and offices, and takes them to a local plastic recycler where they are put through a process that eventually turns them into bio-degradable bags. As Talisman's recycling programme grew, the company's office personnel also went on a clean-up day at a popular picnic area on the way to their field operations. Read more about Talisman's plastic bottle collection and recycling programme .
Marathon Oil has been helping to provide clean water to villagers by building a water well in Bestana village, and has set up rubbish collection teams to collect refuse from local villages near its area of operation. In Harir, Marathon is helping to beautify the town through a tree-planting programme. See pictures of Marathon's community environmental projects.