ERM participates in SPE Arctic and Extreme Environments Conference and Exhibition

11 November 2011

Moscow, Russia: Representatives of the world’s most innovative companies in the oil and gas industry and adjacent market sectors leaders came together at the SPE Arctic and Extreme Environments Conference and Exhibition in Moscow, Russia to discuss the critical importance of the Arctic and surrounding regions. Presentations and discussions provided tremendous insights to the opportunities and challenges of exploring and developing oil and gas in the Arctic region.

Potential Arctic hydrocarbon resources are vast with predictions of some 400 undiscovered fields containing as much oil and gas as has already been consumed in the world to date (230 Billion Tons Oil Equivalent). However developers face enormous challenges in the face of the most extreme environmental conditions.

Don MacIntyre, a Partner with ERM’s Impact Assessment and Planning Practice, and Sergey Bourtsev, Managing Partner of ERM’s Eurasia operations served on the Conference Steering Committee, helping to formulate a balanced technical program with particular reference to environmental and social content. Don also co-chaired a session on the latest approaches and technologies employed in the design and installation of Arctic pipelines, an area driving tremendous innovation to overcome the extreme and uncertain weather conditions, constrained operating season and the seasonal occurrence of icebergs that demand pipeline burial.

ERM’s paper on ‘Key Lessons in Social Engagement and Impact Assessment in the Arctic’ set out the foundations for effective management of environmental and social performance in a region where there are many interdependencies and uncertainties. Better assessment of the impacts of energy development upon the cultural identity and livelihood of indigenous peoples is based upon the lessons learned from forty years of oil and gas exploration and development activities in Alaska.

A recurring message which the Arctic exploration industry at large appears to agree upon is that everyone is in it together, that cooperation is essential and that operators are collectively vulnerable. Arctic stakeholders repeatedly and readily acknowledge that any development in the region must be sustainable, as exemplified in such statements as:

  • The biggest external challenges for the region today focus on sustainable development;
  • Success requires discipline, persistence and patience and is defined by NGOs, governments and the media;
  • We cannot afford to make mistakes or we will be talking to people who don’t like us for years; 
  • The greatest challenge we face is public perception.

ERM has for a number of years been providing services to clients investing in the Arctic. Our services have included strategic advice, environmental and social impact assessment and permitting and risk assessment, directed at projects and potential investments in the Chukchi and Beaufort Sea, Alaska, Russia and Greenland. Our service delivery has been considerably enhanced via the recent acquisition of OASIS Environmental Inc. Headquartered in Anchorage, the company provides impact assessment and permitting, oil spill response and remediation, EHS management and water/ecological management services operating predominantly in the oil and gas and mining sectors. This transaction strengthens ERM’s leading position in the resources sector.


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