OPUS Top Environmental Business


•  Specialist company to enhance environmental provision
•  New jobs and investment as business expands
•  Scottish-based firm offers full range of services

Opus, a specialist firm for oil industry is generating more and new jobs and making brand new investments to its budding environmental business, this is because of the high growth of demand from Northern Sea operators.

Next to the recent achievement of Opus by Aker Solutions, they invested £420,000 to its environmental services team which is Orkney-base and four additional members of staff is needed to be recruited within a 2 years’ time.

Increasingly, oil companies are seeking help that will improve their ecological performance in unison to complying with more strict policies governing the throwing of liquid produced during the oil is being extracted.

Opus offers the full range of expertise to satisfy UK risk based approach (RBA) obligations, having been the leading laboratory for the Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) trials in 2010 and was involved in developing the new approach introduced in January.

Its world-leading team of marine ecotoxicologists and process engineers carry out a six-step approach involving offshore sampling, toxicity testing, environmental  modelling and consultancy using the internationally-renowned Best Available Techniques (BAT) and Best Environmental Practice (BEP) study methodology which is accepted by both oil companies and regulators.

Applying the BAT/BEP principles allows oil and gas operators to maximise production while preventing harmful discharges to the marine environment.

Opus, which has its headquarters in Guildford, Surrey, is already globally recognised for its wide-ranging expertise in consultancy, process equipment supply and environmental services and has won contracts in Europe, Australia, US, Canada, Brazil, Norway, the Middle East and the Far East, as well as in the North Sea.

The firm specialises in oil/water/gas separation and treatment technologies for produced water, which is a by-product of offshore oil production, as well as value-adding solutions for oil and gas producers, including fluids analysis, process upgrades and specialist environmental testing and monitoring.

Glen McLellan, director of strategic operations at Opus, said: “With the new legislation, no longer do oil companies just need to monitor the oil in water they discharge; they now also look at the overall toxicity of that effluent. Therefore, it gets tested for toxicity, then is subjected to environmental modelling to understand,  predict and ensure that there is no risk of potential impact on the environment.”

The Opus laboratories, a member of the European Oilfield Speciality Chemicals Association, are established as one of the world’s leading facilities, offering high quality marine ecotoxicology.

They offer advice to guide clients through the unique requirements of the UK, Norwegian, Dutch and Danish regulatory authorities, including HOCNF (the Harmonised Offshore Chemical Notification Format) which applies to all chemicals used in connection with offshore exploration and production activities in the OSPAR maritime area of the North-East Atlantic.

Using natural seawater Opus conducts a comprehensive series of tests to determine the extent to which a chemical will naturally break down in the environment and not adversely impact an organism or accumulate in the body.

Opus delivers innovative MARA (microbial assays for risk assessment) and LumiMARA testing, which uses a number of species to analyse the environmental impact of water samples. In addition, using algal and invertebrate Whole Effluent Toxicity (WET) data, and Predicted Environmental Concentration (PEC) and Predicted No Effect Concentration (PNEC) tests, it can help provide an optimum produced water management plan.

Modelling is done using DREAM (Dose related Risk and Effect Assessment Model), a state-of-the-art system that helps assess the potential risks from produced water and drilling discharges.

Glen McLellan added:  “We invested in and pioneered this capability in order that we can do this in-house and be able to offer the whole package of RBA assessments, all from our base in Flotta.

“It has increased our overall capabilities and the range of services we can offer to oil companies, and is very much a growing part of the business. From their point of view, being able to get this range of services from start to finish via one source provides reliability of project management and is more efficient and cost-effective. Operators should not see this as another set of regulations but as an opportunity to achieve overall improvements to their process.”

He added:  “At present, the legislation applies only to the North Sea. But usually the regulations spread to other areas and so there will eventually be opportunities to apply this environmental modelling anywhere in the world.”

He said the need for improved environmental monitoring could also be needed due to the growing use of enhanced oil recovery (EOR) techniques used to increase the amount of trapped crude oil that can be extracted from oil fields – many of which are nearing the end of their lives – and therefore prolong their economic viability.

EOR can considerably increase the amount of oil that can be recovered, although many of the techniques can present both separation and environmental challenges.

“More water and more chemicals are needed during EOR in mature fields and often materials in the discharged water are less biodegradable and would, therefore, fail toxicity tests”, said Glen McLellan. “Our services are needed even more because of those factors.”

For more details see www.opus-results.com