Cairn oil and gas is the largest private crude oil producer in India. In an exclusive conversation with The CSR Journal, Ms Harmeet Sehra, CSR Head at Cairn Oil and Gas talks about the Company’s focus on the socio-economic development of the communities it engages with and its plans for going Net-Zero. Following are excerpts from the interaction.
1. With the rising global pressure of reducing the dependency on fossil fuels, what steps is the company taking to reduce its carbon emissions?
As countries across the globe and India itself race to adopt cleaner sources of energy to control emissions and climate change, Cairn Oil & Gas has been at the forefront of finding new and innovative ways to uphold this belief in sustainability and is coming up with initiatives that enable us to achieve holistic socioeconomic development while keeping in mind our goal of ensuring energy aatmanirbharta for India. Cairn is not only leading the way in oil exploration and production in India, but is also pioneering environmental, social, and corporate governance leadership (ESG) in the oil and gas sector.
As part of our ESG roadmap, we have committed to plant 2 million trees by 2030, and take steps to protect and enhance biodiversity throughout the project lifecycle. In line with our decarbonization commitment to reduce our carbon footprint, Cairn is cutting dependence on more polluting sources of power and setting an important precedent in the industry.
In fact, the decision to convert the longest continuously heated and insulated pipeline in the world-Mangala into a fully solar-operated pipeline flows from this ESG vision.
2. Does the company have any plans with respect to venturing into renewable energy?
Cairn Oil & Gas is pioneering ESG (environmental, social, and corporate governance) leadership in the oil & gas sector and has committed to achieving net zero by 2050. We are leading the way in the oil and gas industry by combining the best of both fossil and non-fossil energy sources. In line with this, we have been exploring opportunities for geothermal energy and flare gas monetization. We’ve also initiated the process to convert our Mangala pipeline into a fully solar-operated pipeline.
The midstream team at Mangala has initiated a project to install rooftop solar photovoltaics on the available area of Above Ground Installations (AGIs) in a phase-wise manner with the target of installing complete solar rooftops in all 36 AGIs by 2025. The goal is to shift the complete AGI load to solar energy and make our Mangala pipeline which is the world’s longest continuously heated and insulated hydrocarbon carrying pipeline a greener and more efficient resource. So far, Cairn has installed a total of 13 AGIs with a solar rooftop capacity of 15KW that is cumulatively reducing approximately 270 tons of CO2e/annum. Further, the plan is to install solar on 10 AGIs each year to complete the project for FY 2025 and achieve a total GHG reduction of ~770 tons of CO2e/annum.
Renewable energy sources are also being used at our developed drinking water facility for wild animals in Gaangli Forest Area, Barmer. The facility includes a bore well (200 m depth) fitted with a solar power submersible pump and a Galjar (pond) of size 30X30X2 feet.
Our residential areas for our staff and business partners in the exploration and production sites have solar rooftops in the facility area. This green OB Project (530 KWp) at Mangala Production Terminal Base Camps is supported by renewable energy. Our Saraswati field (Sara WP-01) also has a 100KWp solar plant.
We have planned an installation of Solar PV on rooftop of RGT LQ buildings -100 KWp and at offshore assets (50-100 KWp) for FY23. Cairn is also exploring Renewable Energy hybrid (Solar, wind and tidal) potential for its offshore assets. These explorations among other initiatives will help us venture into the sphere of renewable energy.
3. How does the company go about improving and uplifting the lives of the community around its operating sites?
We, at Cairn Oil and Gas, believe in a comprehensive and holistic approach towards development. We have committed to a sustainable method of development which has also accelerated our efforts to bring a visible qualitative change in the lives of the communities that surround us.
We have a slew of diverse initiatives in health, education, skill development, livelihood support, women and child development, and more. Cairn’s initiative of Dairy Development and Animal Husbandry (DDAH) has helped improve ways of livestock management, which it has led to income enhancement. We have also collaborated with NGOs like SURE Sansthan and conducted behavioural and outlook change sessions.
Rajasthan, being an arid state, faces acute shortages of water on a regular basis. Keeping in mind the severity of weather conditions in Rajasthan and the turmoil that people have due to such harsh conditions, Cairn has launched several water initiatives in the state. More than one lakh lives have been touched by Cairn’s water initiatives in Barmer during 2019-20. The entire freshwater requirement of its Rajasthan and Ravva operations are being met through saline aquifers while more than 96% of the produced water is being recycled through reinjection. Cairn has also planted 279 acres of mangroves along the coasts of the Bay of Bengal and the Arabian Sea. In Rajasthan’s arid Thar, a floral biodiversity park hosting over 100 indigenous species now dots the landscape of Mangala Processing Terminal in Barmer, Rajasthan. Overall, 1,644 acres of area are developed as a greenbelt across Cairn’s operational areas.
Cairn’s Barmer Unnati project is developing livelihood models and value chain interventions and increasing the income of the farming communities by introducing and promoting new crops and technologies in the region through natural resource management practices. Since its inception, the project has benefited 6,000 farmers positively.
Cairn continues to work towards the betterment of its communities through such programmes. Over the years, Cairn’s positive initiatives have brought visible transformation in the areas of its operations. At Cairn, we follow a diverse approach to community development, that can be seen through the various initiatives we have taken at Rajasthan.
4. Rajasthan is one of the areas of operation of Cairn Oil and Gas, which has one of the highest instances of gender inequality. What role does the company seek to play in addressing this?
Rajasthan is a region that is traditionally burdened by an imbalance in sex ratio and patriarchy. Seema Rayal, Installation Manager, Aishwariya oil field, Rajasthan is the first woman engineer from Rajasthan. She began her journey at Cairn Oil & Gas and coveted a leadership position at an oil and gas installation that has traditionally been considered a male bastion. Further, she has led the early facility commissioning at Raageshwari Gas Terminal and successfully streamlined the maintenance planning process for Mangala, Bhagyam, Aishwarya (MBA) fields. She is one of the many examples of women whom Cairn has given a platform to showcase their talent.
Recently Cairn Oil & Gas put together a Quick Reaction Team (QRT) of Ladies “Durga Vahini” at Mangala Processing Terminal. The QRT will be part of the MPT security team and will be responsible for patrolling and rapidly responding to developing situations. With this, Cairn Oil & Gas, Barmer is pioneering in introducing the lady guards in the district. This move will not only inspire other ladies from rural areas but also broaden the perspective of society.
At Cairn, we aim to invest in the overall status of women and children, as it is imperative to achieve sustainable change. Cairn is also actively involved in uplifting women through skilling programs, education, contribution to nutrition and through health services. In FY22, 1,195 women have benefited across 49 Nand Ghars contributing to their health, nutrition, and holistic development. Women have also been engaged across 31 Self-Help Groups (SHGs) and have ensured savings of INR14,61,630 to date. These women are trained in allied activities and linked with financial institutions for soft loans. Cairn also distributes nutrition kits to pregnant women registered at PHC at regular intervals.
5. According to National Achievement Survey, there has been a regression in the learning capabilities of students across the country as a result of pandemic ensued lockdowns. What role can India Inc. play in reversing this damage?
The year 2020 was truly a great setback for all of us. It was especially hard for students as it disrupted their entire course of study. The shift to digital further worsened this learning gap as the digital divide made knowledge inaccessible for many.
To bridge the gap between this vast digital divide, Cairn launched a digital education project – ‘E-Kaksha’. The aim of the project was to impart free and quality digital education to students from grade 6 to 12 across Rajasthan. E-Kaksha has been a boon for students and addresses traditional challenges to education, by bridging the gap digitally. We have managed to turn a challenge into an opportunity. The initiative plays a critical role as education firms the society at its roots.
5. Could you please elaborate on the award-winning e-Kaksha initiative by the Company?
The ‘E-Kaksha’ initiative launched by Cairn endeavours to impart free and good-quality digital education to students from grades 6 to 12 across Rajasthan. It aims to provide no-cost quality and accessible education and utilises digital methods to inculcate learning in children and has benefitted over 87 lakh students from 66,221 government secondary schools across 33 districts of Rajasthan.
The main goal behind the ‘E-Kaksha’ initiative was to overcome traditional challenges of the poor pupil-to-teacher ratio, lack of complete knowledge among teachers, low affordability of higher education, and outdated teaching methodologies in institutions.
The initiative was awarded the ‘Smart Education’ Award at the 3rd edition of FICCI Smart Urban Innovations Awards organized on April 29, 2022.
It is undoubtedly a testimony to our never-ending commitment to giving back to the community. E-Kaksha has been a boon for students affected by the pandemic and addresses traditional challenges to education, by bridging the gap digitally.
6. What are the ESG goals of Cairn Oil and Gas Limited?
As mentioned earlier, at Cairn Oil and Gas, we are committed to our responsibility towards the environment and society. Keeping in mind this commitment, we have designed our ESG goals that would help us follow our desired vision to sustainability. With a simultaneous focus on expanding our energy portfolio, maintaining best practices for our people and building a healthier planet, we are pursuing a slew of initiatives under our ESG roadmap. Some of these are:
– Greening the longest heated insulated pipeline (670 Kms) with solar rooftop on AGIs (on the route of underground pipeline, there are above ground stations at every ~18 Kms) of pipeline operation
– Green OB Project (530 KWp) will be supported by renewable energy – the Saraswati field (Sara WP-01) will be powered by a 100KWp solar plant
– Exploring the potential of hybrid energy (solar, wind, and tidal) for its offshore assets
– Introducing greenhouse gas eliminating technologies like zero technical flaring during milling operations and Gas- Based Engine Generators (GEGs) in remote satellite fields to meet the captive power requirement through reduced flaring volume vis-a-vis hydrocarbon utilization
– Usage of associated natural gas for meeting its power and heating requirements.
– Sustaining net water positive impact
– Planting 2 million trees by 2030, and protecting and enhancing biodiversity throughout the project lifecycle.
– We are driving a great workplace by promoting gender parity, diversity, and inclusivity, adhering to global business standards of corporate governance, and remaining focused on the health & safety of employees and business partners
7. India has committed to go Net Zero by 2070. By when does Cairn Oil and Gas envision doing the same?
Very recently, in February 2022, Cairn Oil and Gas announced its commitment to target net-zero by 2050, as it embarked on its ESG journey. The initiative, in the backdrop of a global climate crisis, is of utmost importance to us. We have undertaken, and continue to undertake, a number of projects to reduce our carbon emissions for a greener tomorrow.
As the country is headed towards net-zero emissions by 2070, as stated by Hon’ble Prime Minister Narendra Modi in COP 26 last year, Cairn Oil and Gas have also committed to achieving net zero by 2050. We wish to create a cleaner and greener future by integrating the best practices that benefit the environment. For this, we have created a robust ESG roadmap with a slew of diverse initiatives.