Leading by example: Northern Area Oil Operation’s journey to environmental excellence
Admin area is the first to achieve Environmental Management System Compliance Level 1.
While the race to protect the environment has taken center stage of global discussions and policies, Aramco’s Northern Area Oil Operations (NAOO) has proactively embarked on bold, decisive environmental improvement actions to ensure long-term sustainable environmental excellence.
Today, NAOO proudly leads the company as the first administrative area to achieve Environmental Management System (EMS) Compliance Level 1.
Working to achieve sustainable development by reducing our carbon footprint and protecting the ecosystem, NAOO, in conjunction with Upstream and Environmental Protection, established Northern Area environmental ambassadors, a structured multidisciplinary team from across the organization to implement strategic environmental initiatives. These include a management system, biodiversity initiatives, and carbon offsetting programs to enhance environmental performance in accordance with the Kingdom’s and Aramco’s net-zero aspirations.
NAOO’s EMS compliance journey began in 2013 with the establishment of the departments’ specific EMS programs. It began to reap the benefits of its strategic initiatives in 2017 with the Manifa Producing Department (MPD) and the Safaniyah Onshore Producing Department (SONPD) becoming the first departments in NAOO to achieve EMS level 1 compliance, then MPD and SONPD in 2018 pushed the boundary further to achieve ISO 14001 certification, while SOFPD achieved EMS Level 1.
On biodiversity initiatives and carbon-offsetting programs, NAOO established a fish hatchery project in Abu Ali that is expected to produce 4 million fingerlings per year for as many as four different species simultaneously. These fingerlings will be released into the Arabian Gulf to boost the local fish stocks.
Furthermore, a Tanajib sanctuary was built, and a natural habitat was created for dhubs, which were rescued from construction sites. A significant increase in the dhub population has been projected in the Safaniyah Area over the next three years.
Moreover, to protect and promote native conservatory areas in the Safaniyah area, a 35-km long fence is being erected starting from the Manifa coastal sanctuaries all the way to the Safaniyah plants.
Also, as part Aramco’s initiative to plant 1 million trees, NAOO has planted 96,500 native trees five years ahead of plan and another 1 million mangroves all at once on Abu Ali Island, Berri Field, with plans for an addition 24 million mangroves for plantation by 2024, and 80 million by 2030 in various locations.
Other emission abatement efforts include leak detection and repairs, where NAOO led the company in the program’s implementation for the fourth consecutive year and fuel gas recovery system installations, resulting in routine flaring emission reduction across its facilities.
Some of NAOO’s environmental excellence success enablers include:
- Hands-on management involvement and accountability at all levels across the admin area
- Synergy between NAOO, Upstream, and Environmental Protection
- A dedicated Environmental Stewardship focus team, among others.
NAOO remains resolute on environmental excellence initiatives and has risen up to the company’s call for an ambitious aspiration to achieve net-zero emissions by 2050.