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Netherlands Assessment of Discharges, Spills and Emissions from Offshore Oil and Gas Installations in 2013 -17

Executive Summary

This report presents the discharge, spill and emission data for the Netherlands offshore oil and gas operations during the period 2013 – 2017 and provides an assessment of that data. The annual data on which the assessment is based are provided in Appendix 1.

Level of Activity

The Netherlands Continental Shelf (NLCS) is a mature oil and gas province within the OSPAR region which saw a 50% reduction in production between 2013 and 2017.

Full Report

The number of installations on the NLCS has decreased by 16% in the last five years; drilling activity peaked in 2015 but then declined in 2016-2017.

Discharges & Spills of Oil

The total quantity of dispersed1 oil (aliphatic oil) discharged to the sea from produced water increased during the period 2013 – 2017, from 60 tonnes in 2013 to 85 tonnes in 2017, an increase of 42%. By comparison, during the same five-year period the annual amount of dispersed oil discharged to sea in the OSPAR region as a whole did not vary considerably.

Oil spillages during the same period ranged from 0.004 to 0.8 tonnes, with no clear trend apparent.

The majority of installations in the NL sector meet the OSPAR oil-in-water performance standard of no more than 30mg/l, but occasional failures are seen. The maximum annual number of such failures was two in 2013 and again in 2015. All installations met the performance standard in 2014 and 2017. No trend is apparent with regards to the failures.


The use and discharge of chemicals have been regulated by OSPAR protocols since the start of 2001, and these have been incorporated into Netherlands national legislation since 2003.

Although there was no clear trend in the scale of overall chemical use and discharge over the period studied, significant reductions were seen with respect to hazardous chemicals. The discharge of substitution chemicals decreased from approximately 24 tonnes in 2013 to approximately 3.5 tonnes in 2017. This represents an 86% reduction in the discharge over the five-year period. Less than 0.05% (by weight) of the chemicals discharged in 2017 contained substances which are candidates for substitution. Environmental goals for the discharges of chemicals that are, or which contain substances identified as candidates for substitution were set out in OSPAR Recommendation 2006/3, which targeted their phasing out by 2017.

OSPAR Recommendation 2005/2 sets environmental goals for the reduction of discharges of substances from OSPAR’s List of Chemicals for Priority Action (LCPA), which were to be phased out by 2010. No LCPA substances were discharged in The Netherlands in the 2013-2017 period.

Atmospheric Emissions

Atmospheric emissions from offshore oil and gas activities are not regulated by OSPAR measures, but are reported annually by operators.

1 “Aliphatics” and “aromatics” are defined by the reference method set in OSPAR Agreement 2005-15 (Solvent extraction, Infra-Red measurement at 3 wavelengths). In that context, “aliphatics” and “dispersed oil” mean the same thing