Petroleum Development Oman (PDO) has signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with three key parties for the establishment of a central facility for the management and disposal of Naturally Occurring Radioactive Materials (NORM).
The agreement was signed by senior representatives from the Ministry of Energy and Minerals, Environmental Authority and the Oman Environmental Services Holding Company (be’ah), according to a press statement issued by PDO on Tuesday.
The project will be among the first in the region to have a sustainable NORM waste management and disposal solution and is expected to generate significant cost savings. Currently, around US$4.2mn is spent annually on exporting waste outside Oman for disposal.
Waste contaminated with Naturally Occurring Radioactive Materials is a by-product of oil and gas production. Safety is paramount in the handling of such items and incorporates a wide range of activities. This includes rigorous HSE (health, safety and environment) management supported by robust assurance processes, compliance to agreed standards and regulations, competence and skillsets in management of NORM Waste workers and the complete technical supply chain including decontamination, treatment and storage of wastes.
The agreement was signed remotely due to the COVID-19 pandemic by the Minister of Energy and Minerals H E Dr Mohammed bin Hamad al Rumhi, chairman of Environment Authority Dr Abdullah al Amri, chief executive officer of be’ah Eng Tariq bin Ali al Amri and PDO managing director Raoul Restucci.
The four signatories will explore the possibility of establishing a national facility for NORM Waste management, which will build local capabilities through training and research activities. The project will assist the government in setting national guidelines for NORM waste management, which are aligned with internationally-recognised standards and best practices. It will also support the industry in NORM waste identification, mapping and establishing best handling practices.
H E Dr Rumhi said, “We will ensure that the project is smoothly progressed with strong support provided from experts in this field. We are committed to ensuring that oil and gas operators utilise the value of the facility in the most efficient way possible.”
Dr Abdullah al Amri added, “As currently there is a lack of regulation on NORM Waste Management, the Environment Authority will provide regulatory requirements and environmental permits needed as well as making a significant contribution to the feasibility study which will be conducted for the establishment of the facility.”
Eng Tariq al Amri said, “This is a progressive step towards the implementation of integrated waste management practices. The collaboration with relevant expertise in the establishment of the central facility will create valuable ICV opportunities for Oman and safeguard its environment in a sustainable manner.”
Restucci said, “For this high-value project, we look forward to offering the technical support required to establish and implement the national facility. We will provide guidelines and current practices for handling, treatment and safe disposal of NORM waste in coordination with all our partners and commit to utilising said facility with PDO NORM waste. A significant value proposition for job creation and greater sustainability.”
The multi-stakeholder collaboration is designed to centralise the full NORM supply chain and disposal process in the sultanate by applying the highest environmental protection standards and incorporating both In-Country Value and commercial requirements.
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