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Unto the third generation: IOGP’s new Environment Director

Wendy Brown, IOGP’s new Environment Director, comes to the role with quite a back story. Both of her grandfathers and her father had lifetime careers working in the downstream and upstream oil industry.

‘You could say I have oil in my blood, and my childhood was certainly focused around the industry. I was born in Brunei and grew up in Gabon, Malaysia, Nigeria and The Hague’ she recalls.

So it was only natural that she’d eventually become part of the industry herself, having first got her feet wet working in the field as an environmental consultant for 12 years.

‘After that, I joined Total, and had several roles in Aberdeen and Calgary, before ultimately becoming responsible for the headquarters’ upstream Environment Department in Paris and its support of all of the company’s E&P activities around the world,’ she says. In that role, Wendy gained extensive experience in defining environmental policies and strategies, as well as every aspect of the environmental management of the E&P life cycle.

She also saw first-hand the varying challenges faced on the ground in different parts of the world.

‘Throughout my 28-year career, I have been aware of IOGP. I regarded its mission, along with IPIECA’s, as essential in providing industry leadership and technically sound reference documents that represent industry best practice. I also served as Total’s alternate representative on the Environment Committee. So when the prospect of this secondment came up, I was keen to go for it,’ she says.

‘In my new IOGP role, I see myself as a ‘global change agent’ – a catalyst in improving the environmental performance of the industry and so its reputation as well. My remit also covers the Decommissioning, Arctic and Legal Committees and representation on regional and international organizations.

Although IOGP is small in numbers as far as the secretariat is concerned, its reach is long thanks to the worldwide nature of the membership.

‘And fortunately, I’ve been able to settle in fairly quickly. Although I just started at the beginning of September, I was asked to be part of the process in crafting the 2018 Business Plan, which means that I’m prepared to implement the thinking behind it, as well as the challenges we face.’

Among those, she says, is the widening of Members’ participation in environmental reporting as well as increasing communications and outreach of our Environment Committee products.

‘I’d particularly welcome more representation from our smaller member companies and new members from areas where there is scope for improvement in environmental performance. This would also reinforce the Association’s international standing. We don’t want IOGP to be misperceived as a body skewed to American and European interests and involvement.’

Wendy also wants to focus on future developments in environmental performance reporting in terms of both accuracy and credibility. This could involve an independent review of the process, together with special emphasis on methane emissions associated with natural gas production and transport, and energy efficiency benchmarking.

‘Judging from the record turnout for the September meeting of the Environment Committee, there’s enormous interest in what we are doing and what we want to do,’ Wendy says. ‘And beyond my specific responsibilities, I see a big role for our Environment Committee in helping to make the case for oil and gas, supported by positive environmental stories. For example, without the environmental baseline and monitoring work done by the upstream oil and gas industry, with which we’re so closely involved, the world would have scarce knowledge of ecosystems in places like Papua New Guinea and the deep Atlantic Margin waters west of Shetland. And once operational, our facilities offer havens to wildlife onshore and off. The protection provided around coastal terminals and offshore infrastructure to adjacent coral reefs and other marine wildlife is a good illustration,’ she says.

Wendy will be working in parallel with her predecessor, John Campbell, who will retire in 2018.

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