Environment and biodiversity

Strong partnerships, sound research and transparency are the key elements of Woodside's approach to the environment.

Material topic

Strong partnerships, sound research and transparency are the key elements of Woodside's approach to the environment

We work to minimise our impacts by integrating environmental management into our activities, including the design, construction, operation and decommissioning of our facilities.


  • No hydrocarbon spills or hazardous non-hydrocarbon spills greater than 1bbl.
  • In 2023, obtained secondary approvals for construction-related environment plans for the Scarborough Energy Project.
  • We supported a number of scientific programs and industry working groups to further our knowledge and understanding on noise-related issues and offshore whale species. Through these programs, bespoke underwater noise controls were developed to avoid and minimise marine noise impacts for offshore projects.
  • A consultation approach for Environment Plans in Australia which has successfully addressed evolving regulatory requirements was developed.
  • Invested in science and biodiversity programs and conservation partnerships to support improved knowledge outcomes.
  • Established Woodside’s Biodiversity Positive Program framework.
  • In 2023, Woodside planted approximately 2.7 million mixed biodiverse seedlings across approximately 4,700 hectares of land at Woodside owned properties. These activities bring the total number of hectares planted to approximately 10,000 hectares since the Native Reforestation Project began in 2020.
  1. This section refers to highlights within a specific time period. Please note that the relevant year, where the activity applies, is stated where appropriate. Where we refer to our activities without reference to a previous calendar year or using present tense, the relevant content may be updated from time to time at our discretion but no reliance should be placed by the reader on this page being up-to-date. We also recommend checking our Announcements page regarding our most recent business activities.

Potential opportunities

  • Integrating the Environment and Biodiversity Policy into environmental management decision making processes.
  • Assess biodiversity positive opportunities for individual Woodside assets. Begin to invest in biodiversity positive projects in the regions where we are active.
  • Continue to collect knowledge on environmental and biodiversity benefits of
    in-situ decommissioning.
  • Ongoing development of technology to identify the seasonality offshore cetaceans and further manage underwater noise impacts.

Potential risks

  • Increased regulatory landscape and stakeholder expectations leading to extended timeframes for assessment and complexity of environmental approvals.
  • Failure to progress biodiversity positive outcomes in a timely manner in the regions and areas where we operate.
  • Potential incident resulting in significant loss of hydrocarbon to the environment.

Our approach1

The nature of our operations are accompanied by certain environmental impacts and risks. We work to minimise our impacts by integrating environmental management into our activities, including the design, construction, operation and decommissioning of our facilities.

We continue this integration by reviewing our processes and commitments, identifying areas of strength to build on, and look to embed renewed environmental standards across Woodside and set appropriate targets and metrics against these. Our focus on implementing leading environmental management and mitigation strategies has allowed us to avoid and minimise our environmental impacts and maintain a more than 30-year record of oil and gas operations without any major environmental incidents.

We recognise that it is not just how we approach environmental management, such as the use of a risk based assessment which matters, but that we also need to be clear and transparent. We engage with our stakeholders to better understand the possible impacts of our activities and to further understand preferred methods and frequency of engagement.

Our hydrocarbon spill preparedness and response framework continues to be a focus across the company’s global portfolio. The approach is underpinned by a comprehensive process informed by international best practice conventions. These require all activities to assess credible spill scenarios to marine environment, evaluate surface and subsea response options, and recommend appropriate response techniques. These activity specific plans are supplemented by corporate plans, regional equipment and locally trained resources.

  1. This section refers to current intentions, plans or stated targets (where applicable). It also outlines information regarding our Management System and relevant processes and procedures. Where we refer to our activities without reference to a previous calendar year or using present tense, the relevant content may be updated from time to time at our discretion but no reliance should be placed by the reader on this page being up-to-date. We also recommend checking our Announcements page regarding our most recent business activities.

Our performance1

Our operations and growth strategy depends on obtaining and maintaining our social licence to operate. Given this and the growing pressure on our natural environment, the environmental performance and the management of our environmental impacts is critical to the future success of our business.

In 2023, there were no environmental incidents involving hydrocarbon or hazardous non hydrocarbon spills of greater than 1 bbl released to the environment.

As part of our commitment to reducing impacts and risks, our hydrocarbon spill preparedness and response framework was embedded across our global portfolio of activities and operations. This enables our business to plan and evaluate spill risks to the marine environment in accordance with our environmental approach.

In 2023, we developed new oil pollution emergency plans that contributed to regulatory acceptance of 11 environmental approvals across our Australian assets. We also delivered capability and training programs for regions where we operate. We continue to engage with regional and international industry groups to assist in proactively managing and monitoring emerging risks.

From 2023, Woodside has committed to supporting positive biodiversity outcomes in the regions in which we operate. Our approach builds on existing biodiversity positive projects that commenced in the years prior to 2023. Woodside developed a framework in 2023 to assess and implement future projects. Woodside seeks to support biodiversity positive projects that have a measurable biodiversity outcome, that enhance stakeholder involvement and adequately manage risks.

We continue to invest in science to support better environmental performance and outcomes across our global portfolio.

We also continue to progress our environmental regulatory authorisations across Australia, Trinidad and Tobago, the United States of America, Mexico and Senegal to advance our projects.

  1. This section refers to our performance within a specific time period. Please note that the relevant year, where the activity applies, is stated where appropriate. Where we refer to our activities without reference to a previous calendar year or using present tense, the relevant content may be updated from time to time at our discretion but no reliance should be placed by the reader on this page being up-to-date. We also recommend checking our Announcements page regarding our most recent business activities.

Environment data table

For more information refer to the environment-related data table.

View data table

Environmental management

In a world that is changing rapidly, we need to ensure that both our existing and planned activities contribute towards acceptable outcomes across the environmental, social and economic landscape.

We recognise our activities have an environmental footprint and we seek to avoid or minimise adverse environmental impacts to the natural environment in the regions we operate.

Understanding the nature of the environments in which we operate informs our planning and decision-making. An adaptive approach to certain activities such as produced water discharges, allow us to constantly respond to changing operational and environmental conditions so our impacts remain acceptable and as low as reasonably practicable.

With increasing awareness of the impact of business activities on biodiversity, we have engaged further with peers and industry bodies to understand leading approaches to reinforce our biodiversity and broader environmental management.

We do this by adopting a risk based approach that allows us to address the environmental impacts and risks associated with our activities in a consistent way. It allows us to focus our effort and resources on the most significant risks associated with our activities no matter where we operate or what a regulatory regime may require.

Woodside recognises that risk is inherent to our business and effectively managing risk is vital to delivering on company objectives, success and continued growth. Woodside is committed to managing our risks proactively and effectively. The objective of Woodside’s risk management system is to provide a consistent process for recognising and managing risks across the business. Achieving this objective requires risks to consider impacts across the key areas of exposure:

  • Health and safety
  • Environment
  • Community and culture
  • Reputation and brand
  • Legal and compliance
  • Financial

Our environmental risk management methodology has been informed by the International Standard ISO 31000 for risk management. This provides a framework to demonstrate that the risks and impacts are continually identified, reduced to a level that is considered as low as reasonably practicable and assessed such that impacts of an activity are at a level we consider to be acceptable. This approach means we identify potential ways to eliminate or avoid an impact before we consider ways of reducing or minimising it. The management measures include at a minimum those that are considered good international industry practice.

We regularly reassess environmental impacts and risks of operations across our portfolio at the activity level. This is to ensure emerging scientific understanding and best practices are captured in these assessments, ultimately resulting in improved environmental outcomes.

To support the risk assessment process and Woodside’s determination of acceptability, our health, safety and environment risk management procedures include the use of a decision support framework based on principles set out in the Guidance on Risk Related Decision Making (Oil and Gas UK 2014). This is to confirm activities do not pose an unacceptable environmental risk. In addition, appropriate focus is placed on activities where the impact or risk is anticipated to be acceptable and demonstrated to be as low as reasonably practicable. The appropriate effort is also applied to the management of risks and impacts based on the uncertainty of the risk, the complexity and risk rating.

Strong external partnerships with government and non-government organisations to collect and analyse environmental knowledge, underpins our approach to avoiding or minimising our environmental impacts. A key focus of the risk-based process undertaken for environmental impacts is defined under the relevant environmental legislation. This includes consideration of the key values of the environment, such as protected areas, threatened and migratory species, and a component of robust impact assessment is to evaluate activities against the relevant management plans for habitats and species.

Investing in science

Our approach to science enables us to deliver environmental performance throughout the entire life cycle of our operations, from exploration and development to production and decommissioning, strengthening our ambition to demonstrate environmental leadership and innovation. Our continued investment in science allows us to proudly collaborate and partner with some of the world’s leading experts and research organisations to understand the environments in which we operate and inform decision-making.

Our commitment to shared scientific understanding of environmental characteristics, including biodiversity in the regions that we operate, is demonstrated by the continued, scientific publication track record of the organisations with which we partner. Our collaborative work with strategic partners and local communities is focused on contributing to positive environmental and social benefits through biodiversity conservation and ecosystem restoration.

The knowledge from these partnership programs supports our ongoing environmental management processes including our impact assessment and improving our management controls to avoid and minimise our environmental impacts. In addition, we support our research partners to publish research findings in international peer reviewed scientific journals. In 2023, there were at least eight scientific journal articles highlighting the findings of research supported by Woodside.

In 2023, our science partnership programs included a range of initiatives but with two clear focus areas; understanding the Ningaloo region in Australia and improving our knowledge base to better manage impacts of underwater noise from our activities.

We also continued to support the National Decommissioning Research Initiative, an industry research collaboration to progress decommissioning options for offshore oil and gas infrastructure via a range of environmental studies to assess impacts, risks and benefits of different offshore decommissioning options.

In 2024, Woodside will continue to support research that improves our ability to avoid and minimise the impacts of our activities on the environment and biodiversity around us.

Burrup Air Monitoring Program

The Burrup Peninsula (Murujuga) is unique worldwide for its collection of petroglyphs, engravings that have been etched, rubbed or scratched into the rocks. The presence of industry on the Burrup Peninsula has generated concerns from some stakeholders that associated emissions may lead to an accelerated weathering or deterioration of rock art.

In 2021, Woodside commenced operation of four atmospheric deposition monitoring stations on Murujuga and one control location. The stations were continually operated in 2022 and 2023 and monitored for parameters that may potentially accelerate weathering of rock art, including acid depositions. This monitoring supplements an extensive dataset collection at the time of Pluto LNG construction and commissioning between 2008-2013. While there are currently no set air quality thresholds for the protection of rock art, this monitoring data set will contribute to the ongoing knowledge regarding a possible relationship between industrial emissions and cultural heritage.

Outcomes of this air monitoring program are directly supporting the Murujuga Rock Art Strategy and the associated monitoring program. In addition, in 2023 Woodside released the air monitoring data available  here.


We established a Carbon Business in 2018 in order to develop a portfolio of carbon credits and our skills and expertise in managing carbon credit integrity. Since then we have invested more than US$150 million, with approximately one third of that spend focused on the origination of our own projects, and the remainder on purchase of credits.1,2,3,4

Today, Woodside manages a portfolio of more than 20 million carbon credits, which it has acquired with an average cost of supply of less than US$20/t. 2,4

Over time we are increasing our focus on project origination as this enables us to better manage the cost and integrity of our carbon credits. In 2023, Woodside planted approximately 2.7 million mixed biodiverse seedlings in Western Australia as part of our Native Reforestation Project across approximately 4,700 ha of land at Woodside owned properties.5

In Senegal, Woodside is funding the restoration of up to 7,000 hectares of mangroves in the Sine Saloum and Casamance regions. Woodside is expected to receive up to 1.4 million carbon credits from this project over 30 years. A wide range of activities can generate carbon credits. These activities can be categorised into avoidance/reduction (e.g. landfill gas capture or renewable energy) or removal (e.g. reforestation) activities.

  1. Invested amount is pre-tax expenditure incurred prior to 31 December 2023 on market purchased carbon credits and Woodside developed carbon origination projects.
  2. Portfolio volume excludes carbon credits (held and expected to be received) from Woodside Pluto Carbon Offset Project Stages 1-4 held by Woodside Burrup Pty Ltd.
  3. Origination refers to carbon offset projects developed by Woodside or third-party project developers, characterised by (i) the provision by Woodside of up-front investment or funding; (ii) Woodside either being a majority participant in the project or a recipient of carbon credits from the project (or both); and (iii) the acceptance of risk by Woodside in relation to carbon credit delivery.
  4. The carbon portfolio is dynamic. Volumes, methods and geography are subject to change. Portfolio volume includes Australian Carbon Credit Units and voluntary carbon market credits held, and expected to be delivered or generated up to ~2050 under or in relation to: (i) third party contracts entered into prior to 31 December 2023; or (ii) Woodside originated projects for which land has been purchased prior to 31 December 2023. Volumes reported on an unrisked basis. Unrisked volumes do not include an adjustment to such volumes to reflect any risk of non-delivery. Portfolio volume excludes retired units. Woodside does not make any claims in relation to the mitigation impact of carbon credit within the portfolio unless, and until, a credit is retired or surrendered (taken out of circulation and can no longer be sold). Cost of supply is calculated pre-tax and is based on portfolio volumes and a calculation of 2023 present value unit costs.
  5. The project has a potential to sequester approximately 2,000 kt CO₂-e over 25 years

2023 Science and Biodiversity case studies

Case Study

Ningaloo Region

The Ningaloo region is recognised as an area of high ecological importance with unique environmental, social and cultural values. The Ningaloo Reef is Australia’s largest fringing coral reef, extending across 280 kilometres of coastline between Exmouth and Carnarvon, Western Australia. This area is a global biodiversity hotspot and was inscribed on the World Heritage List in 2011. Exmouth Gulf has increasingly been seen as critical habitat for humpback whales, dugongs, migratory birds and a range of marine species. Woodside has two offshore assets adjacent to the world heritage area being Ngujima-Yin and Pyrenees Floating Production Storage and Offloading (FPSO) facilities.
Case Study

Underwater noise and whales

Sound is a critical sensory cue for many marine animals, including whales and increasing levels of anthropogenic noise in the world’s oceans is a known stressor to marine life. Marine animals such as whales use sound to communicate, navigate and detect predators and prey.

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Previous case studies

Case Study

Terrebonne biodiversity and resiliency projects

Woodside, in partnership with Resource Environmental Solutions, commenced two restoration projects in 2019, including the Pointe-Aux-Chenes project and the Bayou Terrebonne project in southern Louisiana, which are expected to cumulatively restore approximately 50 to 58 hectares (125-143 acres) of wetlands. Extensive bald cypress tree plantings were undertaken at the Pointe- Aux-Chenes project and within marsh terraces created as part of the Bayou Terrebonne project. These are proven ecological restoration approaches that improve the quality of lands and waters that support human, animal and marine populations, especially along Louisiana’s fragile, eroding coastline.

Case Study

Turtle Village Trust, Trinidad and Tobago

Turtle Village Trust (TVT) is an umbrella organisation representing 21 community turtle conservation groups in Trinidad and Tobago. TVT is actively involved in sea turtle and environmental conservation, climate change adaptation, education and awareness, advocacy, eco-tourism, food security and community development programs. TVT has five priority work areas to achieve its vision of sea turtle conservation by communities, for communities and in communities. One of these work areas is focused on community based turtle conservation, research and data management. Data collection involves annual monitoring of sea turtle nesting activities and hatchling emergence and the data contributes to the Trinidad and Tobago national monitoring program.

Case study

Coral Restoration Project, Trinidad and Tobago

Coral reefs are one of the most biodiverse marine ecosystems. These reefs support many marine species and ecosystem services that are vital for human socio-economic use including coastal protection, tourism and fisheries.

Investing in biodiversity

In January 2023, we published an Environment and Biodiversity Policy for Woodside. This policy commits Woodside to not undertake new exploration or development within natural World Heritage sites, or within International Union for Conservation of Nature protected areas that are not consistent with management plans in force. The new policy highlights the approach that Woodside will take on environmental and biodiversity management moving forward1.

Human rights and biodiversity are intrinsically intertwined. Biodiversity underpins human wellbeing and its decline threatens nature and people alike. Consequently, we aim to contribute towards national and global efforts to halt and reverse biodiversity loss by supporting positive biodiversity projects in the regions in which we operate.

Woodside is increasing investment in partnerships that seek to improve local or regional biodiversity. As outlined in our new Policy, we committed to continuing our support of programs that achieve positive biodiversity outcomes in regions and areas in which we operate.

This future commitment builds on our ongoing collaborative work with strategic partners and local communities which contribute to positive environmental and social outcomes through biodiversity conservation and ecosystem restoration. Some of the current projects we invest in are outlined in the following case studies.

Our exploration and developments are not within World Heritage listed properties. Where our operations are adjacent to World Heritage areas, we are required to submit documentation to regulators that demonstrate that there is no impact to these areas. Furthermore, any exploration or operations in International Union for Conservation of Nature Protected Areas Categories I to IV is only undertaken with an appropriate plan that meets regulatory requirements.

  1. Woodside’s Environment and Biodiversity Policy outlines that it does not undertake new exploration or development of hydrocarbons within the boundaries of natural sites on the UNESCO World Heritage List or within IUCN Protected Areas (as specified at 1 December 2022) unless compatible with management plans in place for the area.

Water management

Access to safe and clean water is a basic human right and essential to maintaining healthy ecosystems. We recognise our responsibility to effectively manage emerging and current risks that have the potential to impact waters, biodiversity, coastline and communities associated with our offshore and onshore operations. This approach is paramount to good environmental and social practices.

Fresh water use

Our Burrup facilities (Karratha Gas Plant, Pluto LNG and King Bay Supply Base) prepare and submit Water Efficiency Management Plans (WEMPs) to the Western Australian Water Corporation each year. The annual WEMPs report includes total water use, along with efficiency, by comparing to total business production for the gas plants and total bunkered water from King Bay Supply Base (KBSB) to supply offshore facilities.

Water efficiency actions are set at five-year intervals and reported against each year. These include items such as periodic inspections of water related infrastructure, as well as ongoing identification, maintenance and repair of leaks. The five yearly updates to the WEMPs for our Burrup facilities were completed in 2023.

During the 2023 financial year, Pluto LNG and KBSB in Western Australia, met their respective water efficiency targets set the previous year. The Karratha Gas Plant slightly exceeded its water efficiency target, with a 6% increase compared to the previous period largely due to overall increased facility production.

At Pluto LNG, there was a significant decrease (48%) in water use compared to the previous year. This was largely due to an increase in reliability of the water re-use system, which recycles water from onsite and reuses it for site service water requirements, therefore reducing demand for scheme water. In addition, the identification, isolation and repair of an underground water leak in the previous period contributed to the overall reduction in 2023.

At KBSB there was a 28% decrease in water usage compared to the previous period which is largely due to repair of potable water storage tanks. An initiative was implemented across site safety showers to limit the need for thermal release to maintain appropriate temperature. Chillers were installed which thus limited the need for water wastage to maintain temperature. This initiative also contributed to water savings in the current period.

Produced water

Produced water discharge is a planned activity with one of the higher environmental risks arising from Woodside’s offshore production assets. One of the challenges of understanding and managing produced water impacts is the potential for increased environmental impact from changes over time in fluid characteristics such as volume, chemical composition or process chemicals used.

To allow us to better understand and appropriately manage produced water discharges, Woodside has developed a risk based, adaptive management framework that re-assesses changing conditions. Real time and novel monitoring of key indicators are utilised as part of ongoing compliance verification and triggers an adaptive response. The adaptive framework manages produced water discharges across a range of producing facilities, with varied chemical composition and treatment technologies, through a simple and consistent approach.

Some of Woodside’s offshore assets in Western Australia discharge produced formation water. Regulations permit this under strict conditions. Woodside has undertaken a comprehensive field water quality and sediment monitoring program which has verified compliance against these conditions and demonstrate our operational controls are effective in meeting the environmental performance objectives. This provides verification of the effectiveness of the implemented controls over the life of the asset.

Our international operations assets are also required to meet strict regulatory permit conditions for produced water. Due to this requirement, we closely monitor volume and quality of water discharged via our environmental tracking system, thereby giving visibility to the business on our monitoring and reporting activities. This informs and helps the business take proactive measures to mitigate any potential parameters that may exceed its discharge criteria.

Our Trinidad and Tobago assets undertake a comprehensive annual monitoring program that includes effluent produced water sediment monitoring and sampling program to demonstrate operational controls are effective in meeting the environmental permits conditions.

Waste management

Woodside works to minimise the impact of waste generation on the environment and in the communities in which we operate.

All waste streams are identified and the expected quantities are determined to ensure we have access to the capability to treat and dispose of these streams in line with our requirements. Waste streams we typically manage for our activities include drilling fluids, general waste, scrap metal, chemicals and plastics.

When identifying the disposal pathway for each waste stream, the waste hierarchy is considered. This prioritises avoidance, reduction, reuse, recycling and treatment over disposal. We identify waste management providers based on their ability to deliver on our waste disposal objectives for each stream. We then audit them to confirm the facility has all required licences, capability and resourcing to manage our waste streams in accordance with relevant legislation and our internal environmental requirements.

Hazardous wastes and recyclable wastes are segregated on site to support the waste disposal hierarchy and minimise the risk of hazardous substances exposure to personnel and the environment. Designated waste storage areas are set up with appropriate containers to segregate the waste.

Routine inspections and health, safety and environment observation cards are used to facilitate identification of opportunities for improvement in waste segregation. The transfer and disposal process of each waste stream is also audited so that waste can be traced from source through to final disposal method, and that wastes are managed in line with our requirements.

Exploring other opportunities such as waste reduction and substitution of hazardous chemicals with those that have lesser impact on the environment is part of our approach.

The waste management approach is captured in waste management plans, which are in place for all developments and operational assets.

Waste performance is monitored through assurance activities at all points along the waste management process. Inspections at our facilities are conducted to ensure hazardous wastes are properly segregated and incidents are raised where nonconformances are identified. We also track waste performance through monitoring waste data for each facility.

Our waste performance data tracks waste volumes by stream (hazardous, non hazardous, recyclable, non recyclables) and by waste disposal outcome (e.g. recycled, incineration, evaporation, landfill). Our waste contractor for Australian operations has a key performance indicator to track percentage of waste diverted from landfill, with metrics defined as:

  • >80% above target
  • 65% on target
  • <65% below target

We have identified opportunities for consideration for future waste management practices across our activities. These considerations include:

  • Set waste targets consistently across operations
  • Identify hazardous waste generation activities during the planning process
  • Identify additional recycling opportunities for general trash items
  • Engage vendors periodically to foster relationships and identify program improvement opportunities

Improving waste segregation in Trinidad and Tobago is a main area of focus, as there is still comingling of waste and/or contamination of recyclable waste (e.g. with food) resulting in waste being disposed of in landfill.

Waste management case study

Case Study

Developing waste management capability in Senegal

Management of waste from the Sangomar Development in Senegal is a focus area to ensure potential health, safety, environmental and social impacts are minimised. The waste management approach for Sangomar also considers minimising the pressure on existing waste facilities in Senegal, while still providing economic opportunities from local waste recycling and treatment.