A new approach to improving environmental management in the oil and gas industry in Thailand
This research was undertaken in an attempt to find new environmental management approaches, strategies and procedures suitable for the upstream Oil & Gas Industry in Thailand and which would be most applicable (practical and reasonable) and suitable to the situation of the country. Current management frameworks in various developed countries were reviewed, compared and analysed to select criteria most applicable to Thailand. The research has found that Thailand's industry is smaller scale and younger than the others, and its provisions for environmental management are only very basic in comparison. There are few laws or regulations, standards, and guidelines that deal specifically in detail with the environmental management of Thailand's upstream oil & gas industry. The Department of Mineral Resources (DMR) under the Ministry of Industry is the only key authority directly acting as a 'one-stop-shop' responsible for the upstream oil & gas industry in Thailand. The functions concerned with environmental protection involve the enforcement of Petroleum Acts and Regulations, and safety and environmental standards but, because of the lack of environmental regulations, rules and standards for petroleum development, DMR can not be regarded as an active agency dealing with environmental matters. The UK has fuller and more definitive provisions, including standards and systems for levying penalties, and as such they are more akin to the command-and-control regulatory systems that have evolved in the more developed countries. There are many existing Acts and regulations affecting offshore oil & gas activities in UK. There are some strengths of the UK system which could be applied to Thailand. Pollution quality control by limiting the concentration of the discharge (standards) from oil & gas activities in the UK, USA, and the Netherlands are universal in their application and probably reasonable. Thus, these standards should be practicable for application to Thailand. On analysis of some of the new approaches (Environmental Covenants, STAR Producer Program), in the case of Thailand, it is considered that the country is not yet ready for these approaches because they require a mature environmental policy. Some part of the Asian Development Bank's recommendations however could suit Thailand in this situation. This research has lead to certain conclusions and recommendations for environmental management in Thailand. The main recommended priority is that DMR should set up a formal action team in the short-term to have specific responsibilities for driving environmental compliance and enforcement related to oil & gas activities. This team should prepare an action plan to enhance the regulatory framework and DMR capacity building. This planning is necessary for long term development and has to be implemented seriously.