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Soil and groundwater team are responsible for preventing and mitigating contamination from oil and gas activities by conducting contamination risk assessments and monitoring campaigns.

PDO has a large number of aging surface facilities, thousands of wells, extensive network of flowlines and pipelines and wells integrity issues that pose a contamination risk to land and groundwater. Furthermore, the high-water cut and sour crude operations contribute to corrosion and asset integrity issues, leading to large numbers of pinhole leaks in the flowlines resulting in a major challenge for PDO.

Many opportunities exist to minimize the environmental footprint through spills prevention, improved facilities integrity, avoidance of temporary storage pits, improved spills response and clean up, and the implementation of a soil contamination risk assessment programme. Review of soil and groundwater contamination controls (e.g. well design) and ALARP demonstration, especially in sensitive and high-risk clusters, would also significantly minimize contamination risks, and reduce cost and potential regulatory exposure. Moreover, in depth hydrogeological assessments and expansion of the groundwater monitoring network would help provide assurance that aquifers were protected from contamination related to PDO activities.

Substantial efforts and investments have helped to phase out Shallow Water Disposal (SWD) in exploitable aquifers in the concession area. Detailed soil and groundwater risk assessment, including development of a vulnerability map(s) and extensive sampling and analysis, have all been carried out and work is progressing well to address the identified gaps. Similarly, risk assessment of extensive legacy sites has helped to identify and focus restoration efforts on high and medium risk sites.

On the other hand, operational activities like water injection, steam generation, drilling and construction, and domestic use continue to withdraw large volumes of aquifer water. Overall, water availability to sustain various PDO and contractors’ activities in interior locations might be a future challenge in areas already scarce of aquifer water supply, coupled with less rainfall and extreme drought periods.

While the increasing volume of PW and the need for disposal or reuse sinks will continue to exacerbate PW management challenge. Governance and synergy around water management within PDO affects the integrated management of water issues and utilization between different clusters.

Nonetheless, there are a number of opportunities to integrate water management across PDO, minimize aquifer water abstraction, maximize reuse opportunities and improve water quality discharges, especially into the marine environment. There is also opportunity to reduce PW volumes through the use of subsurface water shut-off technologies and, above all, facilitate dialogue at a national level to improve water use and management for various domestic, agriculture and industrial purposes. Conducting water balance for each cluster, and then integrating water sources and sinks across entire Clusters and even with other operators, would facilitate consolidated water management practices across PDO and Oman. Implementation of forward osmosis technology across reverse osmosis plants would also help in reducing aquifer abstraction and minimizing reject water disposal.